Issue No. 19

Delicious sunshine cocktails and scrumptious recipes, brilliant features and tons of information and gorgeous photos to inspire your visits. The secret life of castles in Burgundy, the Abbey of Senanque in Provence, Sainte-Denis, Lourdes, Calvados in Normandy, Paris, Grenoble and more...

Delicious sunshine cocktails and scrumptious recipes, brilliant features and tons of information and gorgeous photos to inspire your visits. The secret life of castles in Burgundy, the Abbey of Senanque in Provence, Sainte-Denis, Lourdes, Calvados in Normandy, Paris, Grenoble and more...

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Bonjour!<br />

Summer is served in this issue of The Good Life France Magazine!<br />

From delicious sunshine cocktails and scrumptious recipes to what's new in France<br />

this summer, there's a ton of information and gorgeous photos to inspire your visits.<br />

We take an in-depth look at the historic and gorgeous Abbaye de Senanque in<br />

Provence, discover Calvados in <strong>No</strong>rmandy and put the spotlight on Saint-Denis<br />

Paris. We also visit the ritzy Ritz Hotel in Paris where Coco Channel lived, explore 20<br />

great things to do in Toulouse and find out what to do on a weekend in Grenoble<br />

and Vienne, often overlooked by visitors, these two great towns have so much to<br />

offer.<br />

You'll love our feature on the best markets in France - it's official! We take a look at<br />

some of the most amazing chateaux in Burgundy and Franche-Comté and meet the<br />

owners who have the privilege and hard work of caring for them.<br />

There are expat stories to inspire those who may be considering the move, including<br />

a British snail farmer in the north of France (yes really!), practical advice guides and<br />

more...<br />

And don't forget to enter our five give away competitions for great summer reading!<br />

Bisous from France<br />

Janine<br />

ps that's my dog Bruno, he's a gentle giant who loves to play with a ball!

contributors<br />

Barb Harmon is a freelance<br />

travel writer and hopeless<br />

Francophile. She and her<br />

husband are looking<br />

forward to living the good<br />

life in France (fingers<br />

crossed). She blogs at<br />

chasingthenextchapter.com<br />

Lucy Pitts is the Deputy<br />

Editor of The Good Life<br />

France Magazine. She<br />

divides her time between<br />

the UK and France where<br />

she has a home in the the<br />

Vendée area, known as the<br />

Green Venice of France.<br />

Find her at stroodcopy.com<br />

Martha McCormick is a writer<br />

who first set foot in France at<br />

age 17 where she experienced<br />

an epiphany perhaps familiar<br />

to many people: This is what<br />

life is meant to be!<br />

Editor: Janine Marsh contact editor (at) the goodlifefrance.com<br />

Deputy Editor: Lucy Pitts<br />

Advertising: sales (at) thegoodlifefrance.com<br />

Digital support: Umbrella Web Solutions<br />

Artistic support: Kumiko at KumikoChesworth.myportfolio.com<br />

Front Cover image: Honfleur, Calvados, <strong>No</strong>rmandy

contents<br />

P. 8<br />

p. 25<br />

P. 30<br />

p 26<br />

Features<br />

8 The Secret Life of<br />

Chateaux<br />

A look at some of the magnificent castles<br />

of Burgundy and Franche-Comté<br />

20 Discover Calvados<br />

The famous liqueur of <strong>No</strong>rmandy that can<br />

blow your socks off!<br />

26 What's new for Summer<br />

2018 in France<br />

Great events and openings you won't want<br />

to miss<br />

32 Le Weekend in Grenoble<br />

Visit the cities that have so much to offer<br />

and a long an ancient history, well worth a<br />

visit.<br />

38 The Abbaye de Senanque<br />

Provence<br />

Famous for the lavender fields but worth a<br />

visit on its own merits.<br />

44 20 things to do in<br />

toulouse<br />

The bet things to do in the sunny city from<br />

dawn to dusk

p. 54<br />

p. 76<br />

p. 72<br />

Features continued<br />

54 The best markets in<br />

France - it's official<br />

A recent competition crowned the favourite<br />

markets of the French - we reveal all...<br />

62 Lourdes the Capital of<br />

Miracles in France<br />

Kevin Pilley visits Lourdes and finds its a<br />

place of friendship and welcome.<br />

68 Putting on the Ritz<br />

Barb Harmon doesn't spend the night but<br />

does fall in love with the Chanel suite.<br />

72 Spotlight on Saint-Denis<br />

The Paris suburb has some spectacular<br />

places to visit.<br />

Regular<br />

76 Your Photos<br />

Featuring the best photos for April, May<br />

and June shared on our Facebook page -<br />

78 Give Aways<br />

5 Great books - perfect for summer reading,<br />

just enter the draws!<br />

80 Expat Story: The British<br />

Snail Farmer wowing the<br />

French<br />

At first the locals were curious, now they're<br />

fans of the Brit farming snails in France!<br />

86 Expat Story: The best B&B<br />

in France!<br />

How to be successful with a B&B.

p. 62<br />

p. 102<br />

p. 54<br />

p. 68<br />

p. 78<br />

Expert Advice<br />

90 Hobby Homes<br />

Farms, Vineyards and Equestrian<br />

properties, guide to how and where to buy.<br />

94 expert financial advice<br />

You don't need to be a millionaire to<br />

benefit from financial advice.<br />

98 the basics of banking in<br />

france<br />

Everything you need to know about setting<br />

up a bank account in France.<br />

Gastronomy<br />

24 chicken with calvados<br />

25 Cupcakes with calvados<br />

100 ratatouille tian<br />

102 creme caramel<br />

104 chestnut and chocolate<br />


The Secret life of<br />


The Secret World of Castles…<br />

<strong>No</strong>t all chateaux are open to the public as grand museums, in fact the majority of them<br />

are still lived in. Their owners see them as a responsibility and a privilege, with a duty to<br />

keep the ancient and often enormous homes safe for future generations.<br />

Burgundy has more chateaux than any other region in France. It’s neighbour and now<br />

partner since the 2016 regional shake up, Franche-Comté also has its fair share of<br />

castles including the incredible 17th century Citadel of Besancon.<br />

Go chateau-hopping in Bourgogne-Franche-Comte and you’ll find chateaux galore to<br />

explore and stay in…<br />

Here are a few favourites:<br />

The chateau was built in the Renaissance<br />

style. Set in 123 acres of parkland, it is one<br />

of the first French castles to have been<br />

built to a plan that was set out on paper. It<br />

was the work of Italian architect<br />

Sebastiano Serlio who went to France to<br />

work on the Chateau of Fontainebleau and<br />

the Louvre. Before then, castles tended to<br />

be designed as they went along.<br />

The Chateau was once owned by the<br />

husband of Diane de Poitier’s sister and<br />

there have been claims that the ghost of<br />

the famous mistress of Henri II, who had<br />

an apartment here, roams the rooms. The<br />

castle changed hands several times and<br />

fell into neglect before being bought by a<br />

Paris real estate company which has<br />

Chateau d’Ancy-le-Franc, Yonne<br />

undertaken a long and very expensive<br />

restoration of the chateau.<br />

Inside beautifully renovated and furnished<br />

rooms and the once glorious 16th century<br />

murals painted by the great masters of<br />

yesteryear are coming back to life as<br />

experts restore the colours. In the chapel<br />

which took 8 years to paint, the ancient<br />

walls are being revealed for the first time in<br />

centuries. Wine fairs and concerts are held<br />

in the beautiful grounds and the<br />

sumptuously decorated courtyard and<br />

grounds are the perfect place to wander<br />

and enjoy the orangery, 18th century folly<br />

and gorgeous gardens.<br />


Chateau stay: Chateau Vault de Lugny, Yonne<br />

Channel your inner King and Queen<br />

at this stunning moated chateau<br />

hotel – you can even book the room<br />

once reserved for kings. Built<br />

between the 13th and 17th centuries<br />

the chateau Vault de Lugny oozes<br />

charm and history and is now owned<br />

by charming couple Elisabeth and<br />

Pascal Bourzeix. Expect roaring open<br />

fires on cold nights, fabulous food in<br />

a gastronomic restaurant and<br />

wonderful service. And the rooms.<br />

You seriously feel like royalty in<br />

these exquisite rooms that look just<br />

like they must have to the nobles<br />

who stayed in them centuries years<br />

ago. The hotel pool has been voted<br />

the most beautiful in France and<br />

believe me, there’s nothing quite so<br />

special as taking a dip in a pool in an<br />

ancient but warm cellar that feels<br />

cocoon like. It can be hired for a<br />

private dinner a deux – how romantic<br />

is that?<br />


Chateau de Sully, Saone-et-Loire<br />

Madame de Sévigné, a 17th century<br />

aristocrat famous for recording daily life<br />

through copious letters, called the<br />

courtyard of the Chateau de Sully “the<br />

most beautiful in France”, and she wasn’t<br />

wrong. It is a huge space, perfect for<br />

partying aristos and surrounded by the<br />

walls of the fabulous castle. The gorgeous<br />

courtyard (photo page: 8-9) was designed<br />

by Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes, a favourite<br />

of Queen Catherine de Medici.<br />

The Chateau is perhaps not as well-known<br />

as it ought to be as it is in the middle of<br />

beautiful burgundy countryside, around<br />

35km from Beaune, but it's well worth the<br />

effort to visit and explore the beautiful<br />

grounds and interior.<br />

Built around 1567, this is no museum<br />

chateau, in fact it’s still lived in by Madame<br />

la Duchesse de Magenta, Marquise de Mac<br />

Mahon. It has a pinch of medieval, a dash<br />

of Renaissance and is elegant and pretty<br />

as a picture. Surrounded by a moat fed by<br />

the River Drée, you cross a five arch bridge<br />

to enter the castle passing by what look<br />

like giant, ancient stone chess pieces. In<br />

fact they are symbols of the pride of a<br />

previous owner who on being made a<br />

Marquis celebrated by ordering the great<br />

stone sculptures of artefacts that feature on<br />

a marquis' coronet.<br />

The castle has been in the Mac Mahon<br />

family for several generations after Jean<br />

Mac Mahon, an Irish doctor married an<br />

heiress who inherited the castle. It was the<br />

home of Patrice de Mac Mahon, President<br />

of France from 1875-1879. The Duchess who<br />

hails from Scotland, married the Duke of<br />

Mac Mahon and it is she who lives there<br />

with her children and manages the vast<br />

estate ensuring the castle’s well-being.<br />

You’ll often spot her flitting about the castle<br />

and gardens followed by her excitable,<br />

friendly dogs.<br />

Inside the rooms are furnished with family<br />


The family have hardly changed<br />

anything but maintained the integrity<br />

and historic beauty of the chateau for<br />

future generations. There’s no central<br />

heating and in a big castle like this, it<br />

can get very cold in the winter. “We<br />

have hot water bottles” says the<br />

Duchess laughing.<br />

Thanks to this determination to keep<br />

the chateau authentic, a guided tour<br />

reveals the exquisite footprints of<br />

history in every room. Unlike some<br />

chateaux the French Revolution<br />

didn’t leave its mark.<br />

Legend has it that the when the<br />

revolutionaries arrived to take the<br />

widowed Marquise to prison, the<br />

family explained that she was in her<br />

80s and was dying and they<br />

persuaded the mob to come back<br />

when she had passed, which was<br />

predicted to be soon. The old lady did<br />

die a few weeks later but the canny<br />

family put her body in a barrel of<br />

brandy. When the revolutionaries<br />

returned, the family retrieved the<br />

body, put it in bed and pretended the<br />

old lady was still ill. The revolutionaries<br />

insisted on seeing her and<br />

agreed that she really didn’t look<br />

well. This went on until the French<br />

Revolution calmed down and the<br />

chateau survived. To this day says<br />

the Duchess, no one knows what day<br />

the Marquise actually died on, so<br />

they put 14 July <strong>19</strong>78 on her grave.<br />

Guided visits are available daily<br />

(March to <strong>No</strong>vember), in English in<br />

summer months, and there are<br />

events throughout the year. It's<br />

especially kid-friendly with lots to do.<br />

Dont miss the delicious tea room and<br />

irresistible shop where you can buy<br />

the Estate's wine and fab souvenirs.<br />

www.chateaudesully.com<br />

Top: Amelie, Duchesse de Magenta with<br />

her sister Charlotte with some wine<br />

made from the Chateau's estate. Above:<br />

the incredible stone sculptures that<br />

represent the pieces from a Marquis'<br />


Château de Couches, Saône-et-Loire<br />

The 12th century Chateau de Couches was<br />

a former home of the fabulously wealthy<br />

Dukes of Burgundy. These days we can all<br />

take a guided tour and enjoy the wonderful<br />

views from its high walls. You can also rent<br />

a gorgeous apartment, take a guided wine<br />

tasting, book a wine course and join in the<br />

events. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy<br />

lunch at the Chateau, where the fresh,<br />

home-made menu and local wines<br />

combined with beautiful views are fantastic<br />

(Thursday-Sunday, 12h-14h – reserve online<br />

at their website below).<br />

www.chateaudecouches.com<br />

Chateau de Germolles, Saône-et-Loire<br />

This ancient chateau is really quite<br />

extraordinary. <strong>No</strong>t just for its good looks<br />

and its ancient history but because in one<br />

of the rooms the original wall decoration<br />

dating to the 14th century is still intact and<br />

very beautiful.<br />

It once belonged to the Dukes of Burgundy<br />

and was home to Philip le Bold and his wife<br />

Margaret of Flanders, the richest heiress in<br />

Europe in her day. Though they owned<br />

around 50 properties including 20 palaces,<br />

this is the best surviving property of the<br />

immensely wealthy Duke. He gave it to<br />

Margaret as a gift, at that time it was more<br />

of a fort. She had it renovated to look much<br />

prettier. She also kept animals in the fields,<br />

put swans in the moat and made perfume<br />

from the roses that grew there, much like<br />

Marie-Antoinette escaping the problems of<br />

daily life in her hamlet at Versailles.<br />

On a guided tour of the house, owner<br />

Matthieu Pinette urges “don’t touch the<br />

walls” in one of the bedrooms and it’s easy<br />

to see why.

Above: 14th century wall decor;<br />

above right: entry at the Chateau<br />

de Germolles<br />

Amazingly the letter M for Margaret and<br />

P for Philip, are painted on the wall, and<br />

they’re original, dating back to the winter<br />

of 1389-90 according to the records. The<br />

black colour that you see is glue holding<br />

what would originally have been gold. It’s<br />

very romantic and absolutely astonishing<br />

to know that more that 650 years ago,<br />

the nobles who lived here would have<br />

gone to bed at night looking at the same<br />

walls and décor we can see today. Very<br />

much the keeper of the castle, Matthieu<br />

ensures the maintenance, restoration<br />

and renovation of the home that has<br />

been in his family for 150 years.<br />

Guided visits are available<br />


Château d’Arlay, Jura, Franche-Comte<br />

Pop over the border from Burgundy into<br />

Franche-Comté and the Jura Department to<br />

visit the Chateau d’Arlay. The castle is<br />

lovely but it’s the gardens that make it a<br />

real knock out visit with exquisite views<br />

over the countryside. With 8 hectares of<br />

walled park, it’s the perfect place for a<br />

breath of fresh air. Afterwards take a visit<br />

of the castle which was built in 1774 on the<br />

site of a fort which dates back to 1150.<br />

The family-owned home is full of beautiful<br />

artefacts furnished by former resident the<br />

Countess Laraguais, heiress to the Princes’<br />

of Orange’s holdings in the region. During<br />

the French Revolution the castle remained<br />

unharmed but many of its possessions<br />

were taken. Later, Napoleon ordered<br />

reparations to families who had lost<br />

belongings and the castle is full of furniture<br />

from the 1800s where the family went on a<br />

spending spree with the money they were<br />

awarded. There’s an eclectic collection here<br />

including some fabulous giraffe<br />

memorabilia commemorating the arrival of<br />

Zarafa the giraffe in France in 1827. She was<br />

a gift from the King of Egypt to Charles X of<br />

France and walked with her keepers from<br />

Marseille to Paris where she lived in the<br />

Jardin des Plantes – it caused a sensation<br />

in the day.<br />

You’ll need around 3 hours to take a tour,<br />

visit the grounds and do a wine tasting in<br />

the shop which sells the wine made from<br />

the estate.<br />


Photo: Christopher Cage<br />

Chateau de Joux, Haut-Doubs<br />

If you like your castles to be brooding and<br />

dramatic then this one’s for you. Perched<br />

on a rocky peninsula along one of the<br />

ancient major trade routes of Europe, the<br />

Chateau de Joux tells a tale of a thousand<br />

years of military history.<br />

A visit here is not for the faint-hearted,<br />

those who have mobility issues and<br />

definitely no pushchairs. There are no lifts<br />

or ramps, you have to get into the castle via<br />

steep stairs. It's worth it though because<br />

this isn't like any other castle. "Here we<br />

dream of history" said Francois Miterrand<br />

when he visited and he's right, this place<br />

feels alive with the past - 1000 years worth.<br />

It was also once a prison “the little sister of<br />

the Bastille” says the guide. It made the<br />

hair stand up on the back of my neck just<br />

to think about those who have been locked<br />

up in this chateau. There have been many,<br />

including the unfortunate Berthe de Joux,<br />

wife of a crusader. Believeing he was dead<br />

she fell in love with one of his companions.<br />

Alas the husband returned, killed the lover<br />

and locked his wife in a tower where she<br />

stayed until he died.<br />

You can visit the cell where prisoners were<br />

held and when the guide turns out the light,<br />

the darkness weighs like a tangible horror,<br />

totally dark and silent, you can't help but<br />

shudder.<br />

There are no glamorous furnishings, no<br />

gardens to walk through - this is the bad<br />

boy of castles with seriously impressive<br />

views to match and kids will love its<br />

dramatic story. Parents might like to visit<br />

nearby Pontarlier afterwards where<br />

absinthe is made!<br />

Open April - <strong>No</strong>vember, guided tour only,<br />

see the website for events and night time<br />

tours.<br />


Citadel of Besanson, Jura<br />

The immense Citadel of Besancon<br />

deserves far more space than we have<br />

here, but it would be impossible to mention<br />

Jura and not mention this huge,<br />

astonishing fort. (You can expect a whole<br />

article devoted to the subject in the near<br />

future!).<br />

When I entered through the huge arch of<br />

the vast masterpiece built by Louis XIV's<br />

military engineer Vauban, crows cawed<br />

and the sound echoed all around. The last<br />

thing I expected to see as I walked over a<br />

bridge to the inner area was baboons and<br />

goats running around, but there they were,<br />

capering about on the hill the citadel sits<br />

on. I'm told they're retired from zoos and<br />

can't get out!<br />

you're in the clouds, especially if it's a misty<br />

day as it was when I was there.<br />

Inside this UNESCO listed monument<br />

which covers a massive 12 hectares, are<br />

museums, an aquarium, insectarium,<br />

noctarium, farm and rooms with exhibits<br />

and showing film, walkways in the sky and<br />

a whole lot more. You could easily spend<br />

an entire day here if you want to see<br />

everything.<br />

And always, there are the views,<br />

extraordinary from this vantage point 100m<br />

above the old town.<br />

Open from February to December.<br />

Citadel.com<br />

The Citadel is so high you feel as though<br />

Get lots more information about chateaux and places to stay in Bourgogne-<br />

Franche-Comte at the tourist office website: en.bourgognefranchecomte.com

Discover<br />

Calvados<br />

Calvados is both a place and a drink. It is a<br />

department that lies in the heart of<br />

<strong>No</strong>rmandy and includes amongst its many<br />

jewels the pretty harbour town of Honfleur,<br />

swanky Deauville, and the port town of<br />

Caen, capital of Calvados as well as William<br />

the conquerors last home town.<br />

This area is known as the garden of Paris,<br />

rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and meat<br />

products. It’s also home to some of the best<br />

apple orchards in the world from which<br />

Calvados the drink is made…<br />

<strong>No</strong>rmandy Eau de Vie<br />

They’ve been making cider in <strong>No</strong>rmandy for<br />

centuries and from cider comes Calvados, a<br />

sort of apple brandy known as a “drink fit for<br />

kings and farmers alike”.<br />

distillation in <strong>No</strong>rmandy was described by<br />

Sir Gilles de Gouberville in his diaries on 28<br />

of March 1553.<br />

Four different types of apple are grown in<br />

Calvados - sweet, bitter sweet, bitter and<br />

acidic - the perfect combination for cider. To<br />

create Calvados, the cider is distilled twice<br />

creating eau de vie. The liquid is matured in<br />

wood barrels and blended. The result is a<br />

strong and rather subtle taste that can blow<br />

your socks off.<br />

One of the best known and most important<br />

Calvados producers is Pere Magloire,<br />

founded in 1821. Their range includes<br />

several bottles of differing ages and you'll<br />

find Calvados easily in shops in France as<br />

well as overseas.<br />

The first official reference regarding cider

The Calvados Experience<br />

You can find out all about Calvados at the<br />

Calvados Experience, part museum, part<br />

show. This brand new experience opened in<br />

2018 at Pont-L’Eveque on the site of<br />

France’s oldest and most famous distillery.<br />

It’s a celebration of and homage to<br />

Calvados and I really don’t want to spoil it<br />

by giving too much away but this is a fully<br />

immersive “experience” with some<br />

awesome special effects. One minute you’ll<br />

find yourself in a centuries old <strong>No</strong>rman town<br />

on a misty morning listening to bird song,<br />

peeking at a farmer and his rosy cheeked<br />

wife picking apples. The next minute you’ll<br />

find yourself watching an apple mountain<br />

tumble and fill the air with the scent of<br />

crushed apples. It’s very artistic and very<br />

well done, educational as well as fun, telling<br />

the history of Calvados – and it’s quite a<br />

story.<br />

The Calvados Experience is great for the<br />

whole family and there’s a tasting included<br />

in the visit (though not for kids) and a very<br />

smart shop selling Calvados and cider<br />

products plus a picnic area and a café on<br />

site.<br />

calvados-experience.com/en - you can take<br />

the tour in eight languages.<br />

Calvados Cocktail Competition<br />

<strong>No</strong>rmandy folk love Calvados so much that<br />

each year they hold an International<br />

Calvados cocktail competition with a<br />

different theme, for instance in 2018<br />

competitors had to include a vegetable<br />

element. It’s an event that’s taken seriously<br />

with entrants from around the world flying in<br />

to participate. They are the winners of best<br />

bartender competitions from countries like<br />

Russia, UK, Estonia, Sweden, Finland,<br />

Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and Poland as<br />

well as of course France. Student bar<br />

tenders also take part. And, if you thought<br />

Calvados was just for drinking neat with ice,<br />

you couldn’t be more wrong, it makes an<br />

excellent base for cocktails.

Far left: Calvados<br />

Experience; mid:<br />

Calvados Experience<br />

shop; left: Calvados<br />

pairing; above: Some<br />

of the Calcvados<br />

cocktail contest<br />

winners<br />

The competition has been emceed for<br />

several years by possibly the world’s most<br />

famous bartender, the legendary Colin Field<br />

of the Ritz, Paris. “Hotel bars are where it’s<br />

at these days” he says. He’s seen Calvados<br />

make a splash and move into the sexy world<br />

of cocktails and says he's been working with<br />

it since <strong>19</strong>82 - always ahead of his time.<br />

In days of old Calvados was a popular tipple<br />

with coffee in the morning - and at night. In<br />

fact, it's still drunk this way in some places.<br />

But these days it's far more popular mixed<br />

with all sorts of things to create the most<br />

delicious cocktails. In <strong>No</strong>rmandy they take<br />

their mixes seriously. The International<br />

Calvados Cocktail Competition is fun but<br />

surprisingly sober, winning is a serious<br />

business.<br />

“A good bartender can make the reputation<br />

of a bar“ says Colin, “they’re a<br />

representative who can convert a bar’s<br />

attitude with their deft mix, gift of the gab<br />

and their image”.<br />

Next time you’re in a bar – ask for a<br />

Calvados cocktail and prepare to be<br />

surprised…<br />

Look out for next year's contest in Calvados,<br />

entry is free to the public: www.<br />

calvadosnouvellevogue.fr/<br />

Pere Magloire<br />

Summer Punch<br />

4 cl of Calvados Père<br />

Magloire<br />

2 cl of Pommeau Père<br />

Magloire<br />

4 cl of orange juice<br />

2 cl of mango juice<br />

1 cl of strawberry syrup<br />

Serve with ice and a slice!<br />


Chicken with Calvados<br />

Ingredients for 4 people<br />

4 chicken breasts<br />

4 apples to cook<br />

4 small turnips (optional)<br />

1 quince (if you can’t get hold of one use a Golden delicious apple, peel,<br />

chop and heat until soft and pulpy)<br />

20 cl of coconut milk<br />

20 cl of cream<br />

100 g of butter<br />

10 cl of Calvados<br />

Some chopped rosemary and chives<br />

Salt and freshly ground pepper<br />

Preheat the oven to 180 ° C/ Gas Mark 4.<br />

Cook the chicken breasts in the oven, 15 minutes on each side.<br />

Wrap the quince generously in foil and cook in boiling water for 1 hour. It will turn to pulp,<br />

set aside.<br />

Peel and cut the turnips into 4 pieces. Cook them in salted water.<br />

Peel the apples, cut them into quarters. Cook in butter for 15 minutes until golden.<br />

Mix the coconut milk with the quince pulp, the Calvados, the rosemary and crème fraiche<br />

together.<br />

Divide the creamy mix onto plates, then the apple and turnip wedges. Lay the chicken<br />

over the top. Sprinkle with chives, salt, freshly ground pepper.<br />

And for real zing, decorate with lemon zest and serve with a glass of Calvados<br />

These recipes are from the Interprofession des Appellations Cidricoles, find more on their<br />

website at: www.idac-aoc.fr

Cupcakes with Calvados<br />

Ingredients for 12 white chocolate cupcakes with Calvados<br />

2eggs<br />

100 g of sugar<br />

120 g of flour<br />

5 g of baking powder<br />

120 g of melted butter<br />

100 g of white chocolate<br />

1 apple (sweet and crunchy)<br />

5 cl of Calvados<br />

10 g of butter<br />

Decoration of the cupcake:<br />

50 g icing sugar<br />

5 cl of Calvados<br />

25 g of butter<br />

Preheat oven to 180° c/ Gas Mark 4.<br />

Peel and dice the apple (1/2 cm pieces). Sauté them in a pan with 20g of butter and<br />

drizzle with calvados for a few minutes until lightly coloured but still crunchy. Remove<br />

from the heat.<br />

Beat the egg whites and sugar together and add the flour and baking powder. Melt the<br />

chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and add the melted butter, mix<br />

together. Mix everything together with the chopped apple. Share the mix in cupcake<br />

moulds and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.<br />

To decorate the cupcake, mix the icing sugar with softened butter and add a little<br />

calvados. Put this mixture in a piping bag. When the cupcakes are cool, turn them out of<br />

the mould and pipe the icing sugar mix. Serve with a glass of calvados.

What's new for<br />

France in Summer 2018<br />

A round up of some of the thrilling, fun and fabulous events on this summer from the<br />

north to the south...<br />

The National Sea centre of France on the Opal Coast at Boulogne-sur-Mer opened a<br />

brand new state-of-the-art extension in spring 2018 which has made it one of the largest<br />

aquariums in the world - and it is spectacular.<br />

Giant tanks fill the new space and we mean giant... the biggest contains 10,000 m3 of<br />

water! You’ll often spot divers in the tank cleaning the copious amount of glass while<br />

sharks, sea lions and fish of all sorts swim close by. With clever and innovative exhibits<br />

you get a real feel for what life is like under the ocean. With an astounding 58,000<br />

creatures and 1,600 different species from sea lions and penguins to sharks (12 different<br />

types), cayman and every kind of fish - you'll discover a truly fascinating and awesome<br />

watery world where you can even get up close and personal with a huge touch pool!<br />

If you’re travelling to or from Calais or Dunkirk, stop off and go see this awesome new<br />

aquarium, it’s fascinating for the whole family from the littlest kids to nana and grandad.<br />

And there's plenty to do in the town too!<br />


Nimes Musée de la Romanite opens<br />

Facing the 2000-year-old amphitheatre of Nimes,<br />

a brand-new museum of Roman History, Musée<br />

de la Romanité opened in June. Through<br />

innovative scenography and rich archaeological<br />

collections, you’ll discover the fascinating Gallo-<br />

Roman period of the area. This incredible new<br />

cultural venue will also house a brilliant book<br />

store, captivating café and restaurant opened by<br />

Michelin-starred chef Franck Putelat. There’s also<br />

an archaeological and Mediterranean garden of<br />

3,500 m² and there's a green roof terrace with a<br />

panoramic view over the city. This brand-new<br />

Museum of Roman History is going to be one of<br />

the top attractions for visitors to Nimes.<br />

The inaugural exhibition of the museum until<br />

September 24, 2018, is dedicated to Gladiators,<br />

the heroes of the coliseum.<br />

More on the Museum of Roman History<br />

Website Musee de la Romanite<br />

ROOTSTOCK Burgundy 13-15 July 2018<br />

Set in a 17th century winery in Burgundy, the Rootstock festival at the Chateau De<br />

Pommard will feature a roster of chart-topping international acts, including British band<br />

Jungle, Canadian group Soul Jazz Orchestra, Swiss band Le Roi Angus, and Nigerianborn<br />

guitarist Keziah Jones. This international line-up will be completed with the French<br />

pop electro group Isaac Delusion and a special Bastille Day DJ set of the unmissable<br />

Breakbot. Forget muddy wellies and fields – this French festival involves the best<br />

international music, fine wine and food, and you can also practice yoga and relax in<br />

capable hands at a number of free spa and beauty workshops.<br />


Lake Annecy to host Europe’s biggest fireworks show!<br />

On Saturday 4 August, Annecy will host one of the biggest fireworks shows in Europe.<br />

The 70-minute themed show will tell the story of two travellers using fireworks, music,<br />

light, lasers, fountains and fire engines. Lake Annecy is internationally renowned for its<br />

beautiful landscape and for the fantastic water quality which, thanks to the efforts<br />

made to protect it for over 50 years, is now the purest in Europe. It hosts many sports<br />

and has 11 supervised beaches for swimming. Annecy is just south of Lake Geneva near<br />

the resorts of Annecy Mountains including Le Grand Bornand and La Clusaz.<br />

en.lac-annecy.com<br />

La Piscine Roubaix, Lille<br />

Fabulous Art Deco swimming pool turned art gallery at Roubaix, Lille, is closed for<br />

renovation until October 20, 2018 when it will reopen with 5 great exhibitions including<br />

Picasso's Man with a sheep. Find out more at: www.roubaix-lapiscine.com

Ateliers lumieres Paris<br />

Photo credit: La Secession a Vienne/Culture Spaces<br />

You don’t have to be an art buff to fall in love with Paris’s latest<br />

cultural venue... located in a former iron foundry which has been<br />

converted to a magnificent art gallery with a difference. Retaining<br />

the building'd huge walls and industrial looks has provided the<br />

perfect backdrop for giant projections of artworks which flow,<br />

move to music and feel as though they envelop you into the heart<br />

of a painting.<br />

Details of the current exhibition and what’s next<br />

www.atelier-lumieres.com<br />

Photo credit: Jean-Marie Charlot<br />

Sedan, Ardennes is hot spot superstar<br />

Sedan falls under the spotlight during the filming of a new BBC adaption of Les Misérables<br />

- a non-musical, true to Victor Hugo's book. With an all star cast including Lily Collins,<br />

Dominic West and David Olewayo and Sedan whose historic centre looks like <strong>19</strong>th century<br />

Paris. There's no air date yet but we reckon it's going to be brilliant. More on Sedan

La Boumette, Paris<br />

From 22 June to the end of September, the<br />

Opera restaurant at the foot of the Opera<br />

Garnier turns into a night club at mignight with<br />

DJ, dancing and music until the early hours of<br />

the morning. If you fancy something a little less<br />

energetic, from 22h enjoy a cocktail at the<br />

Cointreau bar on the hidden terrace.<br />

1 place Jacques Rouché.<br />

https://www.facebook.com/laboumette<br />

Night time zoo visits<br />

Every Thursday during June<br />

through to 9th August 2018, the<br />

Paris Zoo will remain open late to<br />

offer visitors a unique experience.<br />

Watch the animals nibble their<br />

night time treats and enjoy your<br />

own night owl night out with<br />

snacks, drinks and dancing. On<br />

July 5 there will a “silent zoo” night<br />

when participants will wear<br />

earphones and dance to the beat<br />

without any disturbance to the<br />

animals.<br />

Join in at Apero’Zoo with Happy<br />

Hour from 7.00 – 8.30 (half price<br />

drinks menu), drinks served until<br />

1am<br />


in Grenoble<br />

and Vienne<br />

How to spend a long weekend in Grenoble and Vienne. Two cities which dance to<br />

a very different rhythm but make the perfect weekend escape says Lucy Pitts as<br />

she explores the vibrant alpine cities...

The best place to start exploring is from the<br />

18th century Bastille which watches over<br />

the city from across the River Isère, 500<br />

metres above. It’s a popular challenge for<br />

runners and you can walk, run or catch the<br />

iconic baubles of the <strong>19</strong>20s cable car up to<br />

the top.<br />

The Bastille is the gateway to endless hiking<br />

and mountain trails, but it also has zip lines,<br />

a museum and a café. Most importantly<br />

however, it provides you with a unique<br />

aerial map of the city and a chance to eat at<br />

the Chez le Pèr’Gras restaurant which<br />

quietly presides over the view.<br />

The Bohemian chic of<br />

Championnet<br />

The district of Championnet outside the<br />

historic centre has a village atmosphere and<br />

a touch of bohemia. Here you’ll find clusters<br />

of designers, unusual boutiques, art<br />

galleries and workshops.<br />

Tucked away in the Isère department of the<br />

Auvergne Rhône Alpes region in the south<br />

east of France, Grenoble bustles. It’s got a<br />

cosmopolitan feel but also a sense of calm<br />

probably due to the composed presence of<br />

the Pre-Alpes that completely surround it.<br />

But if you tend to only associate Grenoble<br />

with winter sports, then think again.<br />

Getting your bearings from<br />

above<br />

Although Grenoble has a modern feel, it has<br />

a history that dates back to the Romans<br />

which results in a blend of architecture and<br />

styles.<br />

As you’d expect, the Grenoblois value their<br />

high-quality produce, and local specialities<br />

include the Grenoble walnut, the Chartreuse<br />

liqueur and of course cheese, from the soft<br />

blue Vercors -Sassenage to the nutty Le<br />

Comte.<br />

In Rue de Strausbourg, to the east of the<br />

Hoche district, you’ll find victuallers in<br />

abundance, including cheese specialist<br />

Bernard Mure-Ravaud, a big personality<br />

with a large moustache, a world champion<br />

cheesemonger and voted France’s top<br />

“tradesman” 2007.<br />

He’s one of the driving forces behind the<br />

annual Descent des Alpages in October. It's<br />

an event which celebrates the return of the<br />

local cattle from their summer alpine<br />

grazing. There's a a parade of cows through<br />

the streets of Grenoble and a showcasing of<br />

local produce with hundreds of street stalls<br />

and displays.

Make time for the arts<br />

Grenoble has a rich artistic heritage which<br />

caters for most tastes. The Musée de<br />

Grenoble houses one of the most<br />

prestigious and diverse collections in France<br />

with 13th century masters to works by<br />

Matisse, Picasso and Gauguin.<br />

And as an acknowledgment of its vibrant<br />

and youthful soul, the city also embraces<br />

street art, with 86 recognised works on the<br />

walls of the newer districts. Discover these<br />

for yourself with the help of a map from the<br />

tourist office or visit during the Street Art<br />

Fest which takes place throughout June and<br />

includes workshops and exhibitions.<br />

is a good place to buy the gourmand and<br />

there are plenty of open air bars and<br />

restaurants that fill the central Place St<br />

André with its grand fountain and stunning<br />

Renaissance style parliamentary buildings.<br />

Recommendations for places to eat include<br />

The Café de la Table Ronde (the second<br />

oldest café in France) and L’Epicurien in the<br />

Place aux Herbes.<br />

Unwind in the historic city<br />

centre<br />

Of course, you have to find time to meander<br />

the streets of the historic centre and explore<br />

the markets. The Marché Place aux Herbes

Photo: Diane Francis Cook<br />

Follow the Romans to Vienne<br />

An hour’s drive from Grenoble Vienne sits<br />

on the banks of the Rhône Just south of<br />

Lyon.<br />

The tourist office even organises cookery<br />

workshops during which you’ll shop for local<br />

ingredients with your chef in the market and<br />

then prepare a meal.<br />

It was an important Roman settlement which<br />

means 16th and 17th century half timbered<br />

houses jockey for position with Roman walls<br />

and remains. Narrow cobbled streets<br />

reminiscent of Lyon give way to a startingly<br />

beautiful Roman Temple surrounded by<br />

bars and cafés.<br />

Photo: Patrick Ageneau, Vienne Tourism<br />

The town is home to an impressive tourist<br />

office next to the Rhône. They offer a range<br />

of tours which include a €7 tram ride up to<br />

Mont Pipet which has views over the town<br />

and the Roman amphitheatre.<br />

Amongst other options, you can also opt for<br />

a “circuit gourmand” which is a tour and<br />

tasting of local products or a sunset tour on<br />

a wooden barge with a glass of wine.

Dusk over Vienne, photo: Henry Landeau, Vienne Tourism

Throughout the year the city is also home to<br />

the second largest market in France with<br />

some 400 stalls and in October Vienne hosts<br />

a honey fair. Or you can head to the<br />

surrounding hills to try some of the 120<br />

different jams made by one of France’s finest<br />

producers Philippe Bruneton, a 20-minute<br />

drive away.<br />

Vienne and Grenoble both offer culture, the<br />

arts, fine architecture, gourmand cuisine and<br />

outdoor activities. Isère has a rich landscape<br />

with both a hint of Provence and Savoie and<br />

a warm and welcoming climate.<br />

From the grandeur of the Rhône to the calm<br />

and serenity of the silent Pre-Alpes, this is a<br />

region that indulges the soul.<br />


A taste of the region’s wines<br />

For lovers of the grape, there’s a wall of<br />

wine in the tourist office which maps the<br />

region’s winemakers and the wines of the<br />

local Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu regions and<br />

helps you plan any tastings.<br />

That done, explore some of the local<br />

vineyards such as the extraordinarily<br />

romantic family-owned Domaine Corps de<br />

Loup which lay abandoned for 50 years.<br />

With ramshackled 18th century charm, it<br />

clings to the hillside in amongst the trees<br />

just 10 minutes outside Vienne.<br />

Jazz and jam<br />

During the first two weeks of July, Vienne is<br />

home to a remarkable jazz festival. With<br />

open air concerts, a main performance in<br />

the candlelit amphitheatre, this year’s artists<br />

include none other than Gregory Porter, Jeff<br />

Beck and Earth Wind and Fire! Read more<br />

about Vienne's Jazz festival here<br />

Vienne and Grenoble are both about 40<br />

minutes from Grenoble airport by car.<br />

Ryanair flights from London Stansted to<br />

Grenoble Airport start from £9.99 one way<br />

and run from until the 27 October 2018<br />

www.ryanair.com<br />

A 2-night stay at the 4* Mercure Grenoble<br />

Center Alpotel, is priced from €89 with<br />

breakfast based on two sharing.<br />

A 2-night stay at the 3* Ibis Saint-Louis<br />

hotel Place Saint-Louis in Vienne, is priced<br />

from €100 with breakfast based on two<br />

sharing.<br />

Car hire is available from Grenoble airport<br />

with Hertz www.hertz.com and starts from<br />

37€/day.<br />

For more help planning your trip contact the<br />

tourist offices at www.grenoble-tourisme.<br />

com or in Vienne at www.vienne-condrieu.<br />


The Abbey de Senanque,<br />


Visiting the 12th century<br />

Abbaye <strong>No</strong>tre-Dame de<br />

Sénanque in May before its<br />

renowned lavender fields<br />

had burst into vibrant<br />

bloom, Martha McCormick<br />

discovered equal beauty in<br />

its austere Romanesque<br />

interior.<br />

Located near Gordes in Provence, the<br />

abbey is occupied by a community of<br />

Cistercian monks. The Roman Catholic<br />

Cistercian Order grew from a late 11th<br />

century reform movement started by monks<br />

who wished to return to the pure traditions of<br />

monastic life practiced in Saint Benedict’s<br />

time.<br />

Following the strictures of Cistercian design,<br />

the abbey lacks decorations such as<br />

frescoes, sculptures, or stained glass<br />

windows with Biblical illustrations.<br />

According to the early founders, these<br />

ornamentations were meant for lay people<br />

who had little access to the Bible.<br />

Decoration brought them closer to God. For<br />

the devout monks, however, such<br />

embellishment was unnecessary and would<br />

distract them from prayer. Thus, the<br />

decorative elements allowed are those of<br />

the architecture itself: vaults, arches,<br />

stairways, transepts, capitals and columns.<br />

These were constructed using the finest<br />

methods because the Cistercian monks<br />

highly valued craftsmanship. Stonecutters<br />

were particularly prized, and each initialed<br />

the stones they cut as a matter of pride.<br />

One might think this austerity creates a<br />

rather drab place. But instead, the austere<br />

décor heightens the beauty of the pale gray<br />

stone and the purity of line.<br />

Added to this is the welcoming of light: la<br />

vrai Lumière—the true light—a symbol of<br />

God.<br />

According to an early founder, Saint<br />

Bernard: “…shadow and darkness shall<br />

disappear and the splendor of the true Light<br />

will invade the whole space…”

Far left: For the monks, the cloister is a symbol of “Paradise<br />

regained.” It stands at the heart of the monastery. Here<br />

monks find a natural spot for silent prayer and meditation.<br />

Above: The play of light and the simplicity of architectural<br />

structure create serene beauty.<br />

The Abbey of Senanque today<br />

At its peak in the 13th and 14th centuries,<br />

Sénanque abbey owned extensive<br />

properties all over Provence, including four<br />

water mills, seven granges, and four or five<br />

hospices, in addition to fields, forests and<br />

pastures. Troubled times followed when the<br />

abbey was partly destroyed during the War<br />

of Religions in the 16th century, and later<br />

was sold off as state property after the<br />

Revolution.<br />

In 1854, it was purchased and restored by a<br />

community of monks, who were later<br />

expelled. The current community dates<br />

back to <strong>19</strong>88.<br />

Today, the monks still follow the precepts of<br />

Cistercian monastic life: liturgical prayer<br />

sung in church; silent reading, meditation<br />

and prayer; and manual and intellectual<br />

work. The brothers work in agriculture<br />

(lavender, honey, and forestry) and tourism<br />

(guided tours, bookshop, and building<br />

restoration.)<br />

The shop is very much worth a visit, offering<br />

the monks’ honey and lavender products, a<br />

wide selection of religious and historical<br />

books, and many other gifts.

Tours of the abbey are offered year-round,<br />

but hours vary - check the website for<br />

specific times. Individuals who wish to tour<br />

the abbey without a guide are admitted in<br />

the morning.<br />

One-hour guided group tours are offered in<br />

French throughout the day. When I joined<br />

a guided tour, I let the guide know that my<br />

French was not great. She kindly spoke<br />

more slowly and enunciated clearly,<br />

allowing me to understand much of what<br />

she said.<br />

If you are lucky enough to visit the Abbaye<br />

de Sénanque when the lavender fields<br />

bloom - between late June and early-<br />

August - the colors of the blue sky, pale<br />

gray stone, green leaves, and purple<br />

flowers are guaranteed to enchant.<br />

There is no better place to enjoy the<br />

lavender fields of Provence.<br />

But do take time to step inside the abbey to<br />

view another world—one of silence,<br />

monochromatic splendor, and the presence<br />

of la vrai Lumière.<br />

(www.senanque.fr)<br />

Click here to read<br />

about the best places<br />

to see the lavender in<br />

Provence and how to<br />

avoid the crowds

20 Things to<br />

do in Toulouse<br />

We're out to tempt you - culture, food, wine<br />

and more, the sunny city has loads to keep you<br />

fully entertained!

1 Place du Capitole<br />

The Place du Capitole is the beating heart of Toulouse. Located in this immense square is<br />

a magnificent building, remarkable for its façade with eight pink marble columns which<br />

houses the town hall and the opera house. Pop in and ogle at the Salle des Illustres with its<br />

spectacular <strong>19</strong>th century paintings on the ceiling and walls, as well as the magnificent<br />

historical rooms of painters Jean-Paul Laurens, Henri Martin and Paul Gervais.<br />

2<br />

Cité de l'Espace<br />

Channel your inner spaceman and try your<br />

hand, or rather your feet, at moon walking<br />

in a moon gravity simulator at this<br />

fascinating Space City adventure park<br />

which spans an incredible 5 hectares.<br />

Gaze at the stars, climb a full-size rocket<br />

and much more in Europe’s premier<br />

astronomy and space science culture<br />

centre.<br />

Photo © Cite de l’Espace<br />

In the summer each Thursday evening,<br />

listen to the fireworks pop at Cité de<br />

l’Espace, right next to the Ariane 5 rocket.<br />

The late-night opening also allows visitors<br />

to star gaze through telescopes in the<br />

park.<br />


3 Reach for the sky<br />

Visit the Aeroscopia museum where you’ll discover a unique collection of more than 30<br />

legendary planes, including two Concordes, a Super Guppy and the A400M. Toulouse is<br />

the birthplace of global civil and military aviation, and Aeroscopia perfectly represents its<br />

rich aviation heritage. This summer there’s an exhibition dedicated to the evergreen Tintin<br />

www.musee-aeroscopia.fr/en<br />

4 Walk the Walk<br />

Get in touch with Toulouse’s secrets and take<br />

a walking tour with the tourist office to discover<br />

the city’s hidden art and architectural gems.<br />

Cross the Pont Neuf and discover the<br />

cosmopolitan district of Saint-Cyprien, a<br />

vibrant district where you’ll find the Passerelle<br />

Viguerie, a 140m long walkway above the<br />

water alongside the Hopital de la Grave, you’ll<br />

get goose bumps at the views over Toulouse.<br />

There are plenty of little restaurants with a<br />

Bohemian ambiance, a covered market and<br />

popular bars.<br />

The buzz of the town centre is a constant<br />

reminder of the exuberant life of Toulouse.<br />

Weave your way through narrow cobblestone<br />

streets and small squares to discover the<br />

Saint-Étienne quarter, brimming with secret<br />

and quirky charms.<br />

Toulouse tourist office organizes an English<br />

language city tour “Great monuments of<br />

Toulouse” every Saturday afternoon.<br />

5 Meet & Greet<br />

Be bowled over by the Greeters tales as<br />

they take you on a tour of the city. There<br />

are 31 volunteers in Toulouse most of<br />

whom speak English and they love to<br />

share their knowledge of Toulouse in this<br />

not for profit service.<br />


6<br />

See the sites<br />

Photo © Toulouse Tourisme<br />

In the city take a tour to discover 2000<br />

years of history. Go by Segway, petit<br />

train, tram, open top mini bus, on foot,<br />

by bike or metro and discover the iconic<br />

monuments and beautiful coloured<br />

buildings that give the city its name “la<br />

ville rose”. There are numerous<br />

fabulous sites such as the ancient<br />

Jacobins Convent, the beautiful Saint-<br />

Sernin Basilica which has been lavishly<br />

renovated revealing the full glory of its<br />

medieval frescoes and murals, plus the<br />

Hôtel d’Assézat a magnificent 17th<br />

century town house which houses the<br />

Fondation Bemberg a private museum<br />

of paintings and objets d’art.<br />

Though known as the pink city,<br />

Toulouse offers many colours and it’s<br />

the perfect starting point for a cycling<br />

tour along the banks of the blue water<br />

of the city’s river and canal. Bikes and<br />

tandems can be rented at La Maison du<br />

vélo, located on the banks of the Canal<br />

du Midi.<br />

Pick up a “Pass de Tourism” at the<br />

tourist office to use public transport and<br />

get entry to a whopping 55 attractions.<br />

7The 240km long Canal du Midi was built under<br />

the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, and flows<br />

from Sète to Toulouse. It was listed as a World<br />

Heritage Site in <strong>19</strong>96. Make the most of the<br />

sunshine with a relaxing boat trip on the River<br />

Garonne or the Canal du Midi or take a bike ride<br />

alongside the water, the feel good factor is<br />

guaranteed...<br />

8<br />

Sparkling and cool<br />

Flea market fun<br />

Browse at the monthly flea market on the first<br />

weekend of every month, from Friday to Sunday.<br />

Visit the daily book and flower markets for local<br />

colour and culture.<br />

9<br />

Summer in the city<br />

Toulouse plages, the city beaches will be set in<br />

several locations this summer: the prairie des<br />

filtres, the port viguerie (recently renovated) with<br />

a Ferris Wheel and the Espace bazacle…

10<br />

Lip-smacking Cassoulet<br />

Photo © CRTMP D Viet<br />

The spicy, meaty, unctuous and utterly<br />

mouth-watering stew with haricot beans<br />

is one of the most famous specialities of<br />

the region and there are plenty of<br />

restaurants dishing it up. With a lovely<br />

sunny climate, eating outdoors is the<br />

order of the day. In the city of Toulouse,<br />

the cassoulet boasts Toulouse<br />

sausage, another regional speciality,<br />

and you’ll find plenty of tree lined<br />

elegant squares, like Place St Pierre,<br />

where you can sit and enjoy watching<br />

the world go by and revel in the luxury<br />

of al fresco dining late into the night.<br />

11<br />

Open air markets<br />

Photo © Toulouse Tourism Marche de Saint Aubin<br />

There’s loads of choice for a spot of mooching at a market in Toulouse. One of the best is<br />

the atmospheric more than 100 year old Victor Hugo covered market, with its 100-plus<br />

active stalls – a great place for foodies to discover the local cheeses, charcuterie, wines,<br />

herbs and the freshest fruit and veg.<br />

On a Sunday morning don't miss the picturesque marché held around the church Eglise St<br />

Aubin, it's a "bobo" (bohemian bourgeois) style affair with clothes, flowers, spices and<br />

great produce on offer - it’s like a village within a village.

12 Gourmet city 13 Bake my day<br />

With 9 Michelin-starred restaurants in<br />

Toulouse metropolis and +1,700 places to<br />

eat, the city is one of the country’s best<br />

served in terms of restaurants.<br />

Toulouse A Table 5-8 September sees a<br />

city wide festive feast take place -<br />

irresistible<br />

Details: www.toulouseatable.com<br />

Try a local speciality cake - Le Fenetra, a<br />

typical “gateau Toulousain” made from<br />

candied lemons and almonds, one of the<br />

best-kept secret recipes of the Occitanie<br />

region. You’ll find it in specialist bakeries<br />

and the Salon de Thé in Toulouse.<br />

14<br />

Victor-Hugo<br />

market<br />

A show-stopper market and a place<br />

of tempting aromas. Head to the first<br />

floor of this 100 year old market<br />

where you’ll discover a fabulous<br />

bistro called L'Impériale – impossible<br />

to not be intoxicated by the delicious<br />

smells of the freshly cooked food,<br />

their cassoulet is divine!<br />

Photo copyright Jane Gifford<br />

Pastel<br />

15<br />

products<br />

Used for dyeing and as a medicinal<br />

plant since antiquity, Isatis Tinctoria<br />

was cultivated in the Lauragais,<br />

between Toulouse, Albi and<br />

Carcassonne. Its blue pigment was<br />

exported throughout Europe and<br />

used as a dye for textiles. Having<br />

earned a fortune, the pastel<br />

merchants had sumptuous private<br />

mansions built in Toulouse. Visit<br />

Terre de Pastel, an unusual complex<br />

that combines, museum-spaboutique-restaurant<br />

showcasing the<br />


16<br />

Jardin des plantes<br />

The beautiful botanical gardens are a perfect place to chill out and smell the roses and<br />

other flowers right next to the Museum of Toulouse. You’ll find the museum mascots, the<br />

colourful peacocks, preening and primping, and if you’re lucky you’ll even spot a baby one!<br />

It’s also a great place for a snack at Le Moaï café (and there’s free WiFi here too).<br />

17 Flower power<br />

Violets are the flower of Toulouse. The<br />

little purple petals have been cultivated<br />

here since 1854 and this species is a<br />

cousin of the fragrant Parma violet.<br />

They’re an important part of the heritage<br />

of Toulouse and you can enjoy the scent<br />

and discover the history of the violet at<br />

the Maison de la Violette barge which is<br />

moored on the Canal du Midi in the city.<br />

Each February there’s a grand fete to<br />

celebrate the violet at the spectacular<br />

Place du Capitole.<br />

Photo copyright Jane Gifford

1-<br />

Festivals<br />

There are more than 1000 events<br />

annually in Toulouse, summer soirees<br />

are often very lively and the “fiesta” is<br />

popular. Don’t miss the Les Siestes<br />

Electroniques (June-July) and Toulouse<br />

d’Eté (July-August).<br />

The unique Festival Toulouse les<br />

Orgues is held each October and<br />

features one of the best collections of<br />

organs in Europe. Additionally, in 2018,<br />

concerts of 30 minutes will be played at<br />

6pm from Wednesday to Saturday and<br />

at 3pm on Sundays, 18-29 July in<br />

Saint-Sernin basilica.<br />

1-<br />

Musical Magic<br />

On Thursday at midday listen to free<br />

concerts. The eclectic programme<br />

attracts a crowd of admiring spectators<br />

in the municipal hall of the Sénéchal in<br />

winter and in the courtyard of the Ostal<br />

d’Occitania when the weather is fine.

20<br />

Monster madness<br />

Toulouse will celebrate its role as European capital of space and aeronautics with a new<br />

venue to represent the Aeropostale (airmail) adventure and the first pilots who were brave<br />

enough to travel by plane. La Piste des Géants (Trail of Giants) will feature a dedicated<br />

garden to transport you across the Aeropostale line (opens June 2017). There will also be<br />

a museum dedicated to the aviation pioneers, and La Halle la Machine with more than 100<br />

mechanical creatures built by François Delarozière (end 2018). <strong>No</strong>vember 1-4 Toulouse<br />

will host the world premiere show of “The Guardian of the Temple”, created by François<br />

Delaroziere and the French theatre production company La Machine. For an hour each<br />

day, a giant minotaur will walk through the city centre to celebrate of the opening of “La<br />

Piste des Géants”.<br />

Details and lots more information: Toulouse Tourism

The best<br />

markets in<br />

France -<br />

its official!

Everyone loves a French street market - from the visitors who flock to France to<br />

experience the good life to the locals who shop at their favourite each week. There are<br />

markets in almost every town and village or at least there will be one nearby. From the<br />

grand street marché s, to covered markets, called Les Halles, to the authentic street<br />

markets of Paris and in tiny villages where there may be only a few stalls, everyone has<br />

their favourite. This year in France, a contest aimed to discover – which is the most loved<br />

market of the French? The “Votre Plus Beau Marche” competition run by TV channel TF1<br />

was hugely popular with voters. 25 contenders went through to the finals and when voting<br />

ended in May 2018 there was a clear winner – lovely Sanary-sur-Mer in the Var<br />

Department, Provence-Alpes-Cote-D’Azur.<br />

We look at the winner and the contenders…<br />

Sanary-sur-mer Market Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur<br />

The colour, scents, sounds and flavours of<br />

this vibrant market on the edge of the<br />

Mediterranean Sea make it a real stand out,<br />

happy place to be. The town is located in<br />

the heart of Provence, between Marseille<br />

and Toulon and its wiggly streets are filled<br />

with beautiful buildings. At the friendly<br />

market you’ll find around 300 stalls. Honey,<br />

olive oil, wine, cheese, spices, fruit and veg<br />

plus of course the freshest sea food are on<br />

offer. And you’ll find colourful baskets,<br />

flowers, pottery and table cloths. Wander<br />

under the shady plane trees along the<br />

Allées Estienne d'Orves and soak up the<br />

ambiance.<br />

It gets busy in the summer months and will<br />

probably be even more so now that it’s been<br />

recognised as France’s favourite market, so<br />

get there early to avoid the crowds and if<br />

you need a parking space, have more<br />

chance of finding one (there’s plenty of paid<br />

parking).<br />

Pick up ingredients for a fabulous French<br />

picnic and head to the local beach afterwards<br />

to enjoy it while watching the world go<br />

by.<br />

Market day: Wednesday 08h-13h<br />


Colmar Market<br />

Colmar, Alsace<br />

The market in the town of Colmar has been<br />

going for more than 150 years. In days gone<br />

by market gardeners would arrive by boat<br />

with their wares using the canals that cross<br />

Colmar giving it the nickname Little Venice.<br />

The lovely old city of half-timbered houses<br />

looks like a scene out of fairy tale and it’s the<br />

perfect location for a spot of shopping.<br />

Expect to see plenty of local specialities at<br />

the market from pretzels to sauerkraut.<br />

Covered market daily except Monday;<br />

Wednesday street market, Quartier Est<br />

Quai du Roi, Orleans<br />

A lively food only market held on the banks<br />

of the Loire River. Local produce including<br />

mushrooms, wine and cheese - delicious!<br />

Saturday 07.30-12.30<br />

Belfort Market Franche-Comté<br />

Located on Rue Dr Frery this foodie covered<br />

market is held in a spacious 100 year old<br />

building with huge arched windows in an<br />

Eiffel-like metal structure. Foodie perfection.<br />

Wednesday 07h-12h<br />

Amboise, Loire Valley<br />

A short walk from the city centre, this large<br />

market is one of the most popular in the<br />

region and is a former favorite market.<br />

Sunday and Friday mornings<br />

Cahors Market Midi-Pyrenees<br />

A 700 year-old market at the foot of a<br />

UNESCO World heritage site, the<br />

magnificent Saint-Etienne cathedral,<br />

fabulous local produce make this a<br />

superstar.<br />

Wednesday and Saturday mornings

Uzès market Languedoc-Roussillon<br />

In the centre of town, in the enchanting Place<br />

aux Herbes the market oozes charm.<br />

Spectacularly tasty and oh-so pretty...<br />

Wednesday and Saturday mornings<br />

Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne,Rhone-<br />

Alpes<br />

Great atmosphere, fabulous food in a<br />

stunning building that has inspired painters<br />

to capture its vibrant good looks. A must see<br />

in the area.<br />

Saturday morning<br />

L'Île-Rousse Market Corsica<br />

Housed in an almost two centuries old<br />

building, a classified historic monument,<br />

small but the food is outstanding.<br />

Daily<br />

Puy-en-Velay Auvergne<br />

The market has taken place since the 15th<br />

century in the elegant squares of this town.<br />

Delectable dairy and scrumptious produce.<br />

Wednesday and Saturday mornings<br />

Nancy Market Lorraine<br />

A lovely covered market which has been<br />

open since 1848 on the site of a market held<br />

since the 15th century. Superb produce.<br />

Tuesday to Saturday 7h-<strong>19</strong>h<br />

Versailles Market, Ile de France<br />

Feast like a king at this fabulous and vibrant<br />

market. It's so worth the trip if you're in the<br />

area.<br />

Tuesday, Friday and Sunday from 7h to 14h;<br />

indoor covered market daily except Monday.

Royan Market Poitou-Charentes<br />

Held in a dramatic <strong>19</strong>50s building - excellent<br />

produce. Came second in the contest!<br />

Daily 7h-13h<br />

Issigeac Market Dordogne<br />

Colourful market in a beautiful location and<br />

a major attraction in the area.<br />

Sunday morning<br />

Arras Market <strong>No</strong>rd Pas de Calais<br />

At the foot of France's favourite monument,<br />

the Belfry of Arras, is a grand market on the<br />

Places des Heroes, where it's been held<br />

since the Middle Ages. It spreads into<br />

surrounding streets and is a busy, bustling<br />

affair with all things foodie, clothes and<br />

household goods.<br />

Wednesday and Saturday mornings<br />

Vannes Market Brittany<br />

Held in the historic centre, it has a great<br />

atmosphere. Mainly food and clothes.<br />

Wednesday and Saturday mornings<br />

Brive-la-Gaillarde Limousin<br />

In the historic centre the weekly market is an<br />

institution for the locals and a must see for<br />

visitors. Great local produce, friendly and<br />

authentic. With more than 300 stalls, its a<br />

grand market and one you won't leave<br />

empty handed - far too much temptation.<br />

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday morning<br />

Troyes Market Champagne-Ardenne<br />

Covered market selling scrumptious<br />

cheeses, bread and more.<br />


Dieppe, <strong>No</strong>rmandy<br />

A large friendly, bustling market with around<br />

200 exhibitors, superb shopping for local<br />

specialities from cider to fish.<br />

Saturday morning<br />

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme Picardie<br />

With stalls laid out alongside the quay and<br />

fabulous views over the Somme Bay, this<br />

authentic, charming market is simply lovely.<br />

Sunday Morning<br />

Toucy Market Burgundy<br />

There's been a market in Toucy since the<br />

Middle Ages. It's held in the streets<br />

whatever the weather and it's THE place to<br />

go for the freshest veg and artisan products<br />

like cheese and bread.<br />

Saturday Morning<br />

Nantes market Pays de la Loire<br />

Talensac indoor market, almost 100 years<br />

old, is the only covered market market in<br />

Nantes, located in the Hauts-Pavés, Saint-<br />

Félix district. One of the best known and<br />

most popular markets in the department.<br />

Daily except Monday 07h - 13.30h<br />

Saint Lo Market, <strong>No</strong>rmandy<br />

A very popular market, lots of lush local<br />

products and a real winner in terms of fun,<br />

friendliness and fabulous food.<br />

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and<br />

Saturdays on place Général de Gaulle

Photo © P Vincent ND Lourdes

Lourdes<br />

The French Capital of Miracles...<br />

Kevin Pilley visits the famous pilgimage site...

Photo © Studio GP Photos<br />

The giant candles kept on arriving. The<br />

wheelchairs stacked up along the banks of<br />

the Gave river. Nuns and nurses kissed the<br />

ground. The queues for the baths<br />

lengthened.<br />

A hunched-up old lady in a black shawl<br />

whispered to the wall, petitioning the<br />

rockface. “In your heart I place all my<br />

anguish and it is there that I gain strength<br />

and courage.”<br />

Pushed towards the famous Massabeille<br />

grotto a frail hollow-cheeked man in a bathchair,<br />

a rug over his knees, reading from a<br />

small book muttered “Mary you showed<br />

yourself to Bernadette in the crevice of the<br />

rock in the cold and grey of winter. You are<br />

the Immaculate Conception. Come to aid<br />

the sinners that we are. Guide us to the<br />

source of true life. Teach us to pray for all<br />

people.”<br />

Some of the faithful walked the steep<br />

wooded 15-station “Way of the Cross” up on<br />

the hill of Espelugues, above the<br />

Sanctuaries. Others held their hands under<br />

the stainless-steel taps and sluiced their<br />

faces with holy water. Some were at prayer<br />

in the underground basilica. Some fed the<br />

ducks from the Bridge of Baths. Others sat in<br />

deep contemplation on benches and chairs,<br />

their eyes closed eyes listening to the<br />

outside Mass.<br />

Lourdes, also called Doors, in the Hautes-<br />

Pyrenees department, 175km west of<br />

Toulouse, has 15000 inhabitants but attracts<br />

25000 visitors - every day. They come to see<br />

a marble statue in a rock ledge in a cave and<br />

to be welcomed by the out-stretched arms of<br />

the Basilica Rosarie. 66 masses are said<br />

each day in forty places of worship within the<br />

51-hectare sacred complex. In France, only<br />

Paris has more hotels than Lourdes. Charter<br />

flights and trains bring in six million pilgrims<br />

each year.<br />

“Everyone is welcome and expected here<br />

“ said a young Irish priest. He was holding a<br />

two-metre high vigil candle. 750 tonnes of<br />

candles are burnt every year at Lourdes.<br />

There is a torchlight procession every night<br />

at 9pm from April to October. Thousands<br />

take part. “The candles represent God’s<br />

presence. The flickering flame His<br />

illuminating light. The white candles signify a<br />

divine pillar of cloud.”

He smiled. “They are a test of faith as they<br />

are very heavy”.<br />

“The disabled, diseased and marginalized<br />

are in the majority here“ said an English<br />

pilgrim. He was carrying a 2-litre plastic jerry<br />

can of complimentary cave water. “Pope<br />

John Paul 11 said Lourdes is the place<br />

where heaven and earth pursue a dialogue.<br />

“Lourdes is a very special. It has been<br />

blessed. Some come for adoration. Or<br />

consolation. Or confession. To call for<br />

intercession or renew their baptismal vows.<br />

Or remember the Beatitudes. Others just to<br />

observe. Hope and fraternity are palpable<br />

here. Kindness too. You find yourself in a<br />

sea of people devoted to the service of<br />

others.”<br />

160 years since the first<br />

apparation at Lourdes<br />

2018 sees the 160th anniversary of the first<br />

apparition when on February 11th the Virgin<br />

Mary appeared to fourteen-year-old<br />

Bernadette Soubirous while she was<br />

collecting firewood. Seventeen apparitions<br />

of “Aquero” (the lady) followed until July<br />

16th.<br />

You can follow the “Jubilee Walk “and see<br />

Bernadette’s birthplace and “le cachot” (or<br />

dungeon) in the Rue Petits-Fosses where<br />

she lived in poverty after her father lost his<br />

mill business and cholera struck the town.<br />

You can also visit the church where she<br />

received her first Communion and the<br />

nearby village of Bartres where she tended<br />

sheep.<br />

Bernadette described her apparition as 'uo<br />

petito damizelo' ("a young girl"). At first, she<br />

mistook it for a demonic apparition thinking it<br />

a “revenant” or soul returning from<br />

purgatory. The apparition did not speak until<br />

the third appearance and in Occitan, the<br />

local patois. It suggested she used a lighted<br />

candle for protection. Thus the torchlight<br />

procession. The small figure in the flowing<br />

white robe and roses on her feet told<br />

Bernadette to build chapels and kiss the<br />

ground as penance. On her ninth visitation<br />

she showed the shepherd girl a miraculous<br />


Photo © Santuaries ND Lourdes P Vincent<br />

Lourdes doesn’t have a local monopoly of<br />

supernatural events. In Betharram near<br />

Lourdes some shepherds saw a vision of a<br />

ray of light which guided them to a statue of<br />

the Virgin Mary. In the early sixteenth<br />

century, a twelve-year-old shepherdess<br />

named Angleze de Sagazan claimed a<br />

vision near a spring at Garaison. Her story is<br />

strikingly similar to that of Bernadette. Pious<br />

but illiterate, she successfully convinced<br />

authorities that her vision was genuine.<br />

There are also several similarities between<br />

the apparition at La Salette near Grenade,<br />

predating Lourdes by eleven years.<br />

Bernadette’s apparitions were not<br />

recognized until 1862. The statue of <strong>No</strong>tre<br />

Dame de Lourdes was installed in the<br />

Massabeille (meaning old rock) grotto two<br />

years later. Bernadette died in Nevers<br />

convent in 1879 and was canonized in <strong>19</strong>33.<br />

Her body was exhumed three times and<br />

found to be “incorrupt”.<br />

but only 70 recognized by the Lourdes<br />

Medical Bureau, a group of theologians and<br />

doctors charged with investigating claims.<br />

Meanwhile, as I stood watching, thousands<br />

continued to process. Three boy scouts<br />

carried a 1.5-metre-long candle. A voice<br />

intoned ”Saloe, Regina; mater misericordia,<br />

vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, saloe”. Another<br />

beside me whispered “Ave Maria Gratia<br />

plena Dominus tecum Virgo serena”.<br />

Then, as the processions of pilgrims moved<br />

another few yards: “O Mary our mother we<br />

come to this place where you who are<br />

sinless appeared full of grace.”<br />

A teenage boy processing a handicapped girl<br />

told me “You learn a lot from coming to<br />

Lourdes. One hundred countries are<br />

represented here every day. It’s a<br />

transfiguring place. You can’t help be moved<br />

and touched. Whatever your beliefs you feel<br />

belief. “<br />

There have been over 7000 claimed “cures”

Photo © Santuaires ND Lourdes<br />

Photo Barbara Summers<br />

Lourdes Tourist Office<br />

The latest Miracle<br />

The last miracle involving Sister<br />

Bernadette Moriau happened in 2008 and<br />

was recognized in 2013.<br />

The nun was 69 years old when she<br />

visited the shrine in Lourdes and attended<br />

a blessing of the sick ceremony. She had<br />

undergone several spinal operations<br />

several decades before, had been<br />

disabled since <strong>19</strong>80 and was confined to<br />

a wheelchair ,suffering great pain.<br />

Photo Lizandra Lerm O'Kennedy<br />

On returning to her convent in Beauvais<br />

she prayed in the Chapel and felt a<br />

feeling of well being and heard a voice tell<br />

her to remove her braces. She was soon<br />

walking and without pain. The Committee<br />

of Lourdes declared that the changes<br />

were inexplicable and a miracle.

Understated Luxury:<br />

The Coco Chanel Suite,<br />

the Ritz Paris<br />

If money is no object, the Coco Chanel Suite in the Paris Ritz is a deliciously<br />

luxurious stay. Barb Harmon visits the suite – but doesn’t stay overnight…<br />

The Coco Chanel Suite<br />

Coco Chanel once declared: "The Ritz is my<br />

home." Although she had a luxurious<br />

apartment above her shop across the street,<br />

still there at 31 rue Cambon, she moved to<br />

the Ritz in <strong>19</strong>37 making suite <strong>No</strong>. 302 her<br />

own. It remained her home until her death in<br />

<strong>19</strong>71.<br />

In her honour the room was renamed The<br />

Coco Chanel Suite and made available for<br />

booking, to the delight of Chanel fans<br />

worldwide.<br />

In 2012, the hotel closed for an extensive<br />

four-year renovation. While 80 percent of the<br />

hotel's original items were refurbished, some<br />

pieces were put in storage or auctioned.<br />

Although none of Chanel’s personal items<br />

were included, some furnishings from her<br />

suite were, and they set record prices.<br />

revamped Coco Chanel Suite<br />

The Channel suite has been moved down a<br />

floor (suite 202) to provide a better view of<br />

Place Vendôme and its famous column. It’s a<br />

stunning scene, one that inspired the<br />

octagonal cap on Chanel’s first perfume,<br />

Chanel <strong>No</strong>. 5.<br />

Karl Lagerfeld, the enigmatic designer and<br />

creative director of Chanel, collaborated with<br />

the Ritz’s design team to recreate Chanel's<br />

world, from fabrics to furniture and the whole<br />

look of the space.

Step inside Chanel’s world<br />

Enter through the softly swishing door of the<br />

Suite and you step into a room that is<br />

unmistakably Chanel. The colour palette is<br />

black, white and shades of beige. At 188m<br />

(2024ft ) the two-bedroom, two-bathroom<br />

suite is larger than many homes. While<br />

luxurious, the living room is comfortable and<br />

is an idyllic spot to lounge with a glass of<br />

wine or sip a cup of coffee, soaking up the<br />

ambience. In front of the ornate fireplace is<br />

a comfy suede sofa trimmed with brass nail<br />

heads, a design based on Chanel's sofa<br />

from her rue Cambon apartment. It’s a<br />

spacious room with several seating and<br />

designated work areas. The large windows<br />

provide plenty of light.<br />

An immense sparkling chandelier<br />

showcases the decorative soaring ceiling.<br />

Several small bookcases contain books on<br />

Chanel as well as objets d' art. There are<br />

sketches by Karl Lagerfeld in the entrance<br />

and throughout the suite are never-seenbefore<br />

archive photos of Chanel during her<br />

time at the Ritz. It is in effect, a mini Chanel<br />

museum.<br />

The living room separates two spacious<br />

bedrooms, the ultra-posh bedding begs you<br />

to lie down for a quick afternoon nap. Here<br />

you'll find Goossens gilt-framed mirrors,<br />

more photos of Chanel, and the holy grail,<br />

lacquered Coromandel screens gleaming<br />

with a rich patina. Chanel started collecting<br />

antique Coromandel screens during her<br />

days with her English polo playing lover, Boy<br />

Capel. She owned dozens.<br />

The table lamps and sconces in the<br />

bedrooms and throughout the suite were<br />

inspired by Alberto Giacometti and Jean-<br />

Michel Frank, contemporaries of Chanel.

While the designs are vintage, they are<br />

modern in every sense. These two, like<br />

Chanel, were ahead of the times.<br />

Both bathrooms scream Chanel: sink faucet<br />

handles are engraved with her name, deep<br />

tubs are perfect for relaxing, there is plenty<br />

of natural light. The vanity table stands<br />

ready to hold your collection of Chanel<br />

products. These are functional bathrooms,<br />

they aren't fussy. The fluffy towels are a soft<br />

peach, a signature of the Ritz Paris.<br />

It’s not cheap to stay in this fabulous suite<br />

but there are some truly special add-ons.<br />

The rates range from €18000-€28000 for a<br />

single night. This does however include<br />

some great perks: a greeter at the door of<br />

your plane and express fast-track<br />

immigration procedures. Round trip<br />

limousine airport transfers and flexible<br />

check-in and check-out times are available.<br />

You’ll also have unlimited access to the Ritz<br />

Club (pool and fitness room with state-ofthe-art-equipment).<br />

Chanel once said: "Luxury must be<br />

comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury."<br />

Chanel was right.<br />

Ritz Paris<br />

15 Place Vendôme<br />


Spotlight on<br />

Saint-Denis<br />

Paris<br />

Head to this district in the suburbs of Paris for its<br />

incredible Basilica, last resting place of the Kings<br />

and Queens of France. Janine Marsh explores...<br />

Saint Denis is a suburb of Paris located<br />

10km north of the city centre. This district<br />

took its name from a Christian Martyr buried<br />

there after being beheaded on nearby<br />

Montmartre (circa 250 AD). It was said that<br />

he carried his head to the site of the current<br />

Basilica of Saint Denis indicating where he<br />

wanted to be buried.His tomb became a<br />

place of worship on which a chapel was built<br />

and he is the patron Saint of France.<br />

Saint Denis the district, is the last resting<br />

place of many kings and queens of France,<br />

buried in the enormous Cathedral Basilica of<br />


Culture Vulture<br />

The Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis was the<br />

world's first monumental masterpiece of<br />

Gothic art. Work began on the main building<br />

in 1122 thouth there was a church there<br />

before. The royal necropolis houses the<br />

tombs of 75 French kings and queens, and<br />

63 princes and princesses through the<br />

centuries.<br />

It contains some incredible funerary<br />

sculptures, many of them depicting the royal<br />

likenesses, dating from the 12th to 16th<br />

centuries. Inside the church is bathed in the<br />

light of 12th and <strong>19</strong>th century stained glass<br />

windows. Hire an audio guide to learn the<br />

incredible history of this enormous church.<br />

The Museum of Art and History, housed in<br />

an old Carmelite convent, has rich<br />

collections reflecting the city's history. It also<br />

has lovely gardens that are just perfect for<br />

resting on a hot Paris day. Details: museesaint-denis.com<br />

Where to Eat<br />

In this suburban district there are plenty of<br />

restaurants and traditional French<br />

brasseries but it's an easy metro journey<br />

into the centre of Paris for many more<br />

options.<br />

Locals love: Les Mets du Roy, a traditional<br />

brasserie opposite the Basilica (4 rue de la<br />

Boulangerie).<br />

Have a snack: La La Bigoudène Café<br />

serves pancakes and great coffee plus<br />

snacks (11 Allée des 6 Chapelles).<br />

Close by at Saint-Ouen (see Inside Track)<br />

there are a plethora of quirky and charming<br />

restaurants such as Le Bistrot Paul Bert (18<br />

rue Paul Bert) which serves exceptionally<br />

good food. The market streets are lined with<br />

dozens of authentic and enchanting little<br />

cafés like The Very Little Dining Room,<br />

(Allee 3 Marche Serpette 110 rue des<br />


Best Bars<br />

There are plenty of bars, and with a young<br />

population, this district has an energetic air.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t far away is the historic area of<br />

Montmartre where you'll find even more<br />

choice - though it is a tourist magnet night<br />

and day. The area of Abesses is where the<br />

locals head to for an evening of Paris<br />

ambience.<br />

Popular with the locals: L’Escargot for its<br />

friendly ambience (6 Rue Gabriel Péri) and<br />

also Le Khedive (3 Place Victor Hugo) by<br />

the Basilica Saint-Denis.<br />

Great atmosphere: Brasserie 3ème Mitemps<br />

(which means 3rd half time!) (33 rue<br />

Jules Rimet) right by the Stade de France).<br />

Traditional: Le Basilica (2 rue de la<br />

Boulangerie) opposite the Basilica of Saint-<br />

Denis, there's a large terrace, perfect to sip<br />

in the sun, often with music over lunch.<br />

The Inside Track<br />

The biggest, most famous and best flea<br />

markets in France. The Marchés aux Puces<br />

de Saint-Ouen have been going for almost<br />

150 years and are one of the largest<br />

markets for antiques and flea markets in the<br />

world. Set in 7 hectares, with more than<br />

2000 exhibitors and 14 different markets.<br />

Hunt for a bargain or a one-off item from<br />

antiques to classic luxury goods, restored<br />

furniture, paintings, bronzes, tapestries,<br />

mirrors, lamps and dishes and much more.<br />

It's also a great place for bars, restaurants<br />

and cafés in a unique atmosphere.<br />

Metro: Garibaldi, line 13.<br />

Saint Ouen Flea Market Paris<br />

A walk in the park: From the station of St-<br />

Denis you can walk along the canal (5.5km)<br />

to Parc Villette, the largest urban cultural<br />

park in Paris. There are lots of cafés to sit<br />

and while away a few hours whilst the sun<br />

plays on the surface of the water.

Locals love: The Abbesses district just a<br />

few kilometres away. It has a villagey feel<br />

despite being at the foot of Montmartre.<br />

There are charming little squares, lots of<br />

bars and a relaxed atmosphere.<br />

Montmartre is very close to Saint Denis and<br />

is a must-see on any Paris visit. Yes there<br />

are throngs of tourists but there's a reason<br />

for that. Escape the crowds at the lovely<br />

Musée de Montmartre, (rue de Cortot) once<br />

home to Auguste Renoir. An outstanding<br />

exhibition of artwork by local artists<br />

including Toulouse-Lautrec and Modigliani.<br />

From the charming gardens you can peek<br />

into the secret vineyards of Paris next door.<br />

Take a Selfie<br />

It has to be, the Basilica Saint-Denis.<br />

Getting Around<br />

Buy a Paris Transport Travel Card for<br />

unlimited travel on the metro, RER (rail), bus<br />

and tram networks in Paris and the suburbs.<br />

A 1, 2, 3 or 5 day pass covering zones 1-5<br />

(including Versailles) is great value and<br />

saves you from queuing for tickets. Buy a<br />

pass at stations and tourist offices. St Denis<br />

is serviced by Metro line 13 and goes<br />

directly to the Champs-Elysées and Les<br />

Invalides from where you can pick up the<br />

RER Line C to the Eiffel Tower.<br />

How to Get There<br />

Eurostar from London to Paris takes just<br />

under 2 hours 16minutes from where it’s a<br />

simple trip to Saint-Denis from Gare du <strong>No</strong>rd<br />

by RER Line B


Every weekend, we invite<br />

you to share your photos<br />

on Facebook - it's a great<br />

way for everyone to see<br />

"real" France and be<br />

inspired by real travellers<br />

snapping pics as they go.<br />

Every week there are<br />

utterly gorgeous photos<br />

being shared and here we<br />

showcase the most popular<br />

of each month. Share your<br />

favourite photos with us on<br />

Facebook - the most "liked"<br />

will appear in the next issue<br />

of The Good Life France<br />

Magazine...<br />

APRIL<br />

Rainy day in<br />

Chateauneuf-en-Auxois,<br />

Burgundy by Don<br />

Knipler<br />

May<br />

The lovely town of Azay-Le-<br />

Rideau, Loire, shimmering in<br />

the rain...<br />

Charles Johnston<br />

Join us on Facebook<br />

and like and share<br />

your favourite photos<br />

of France...

Lavender in Provence by Kim<br />

Rusche Tulman (+8,000 likes<br />

and shares!)<br />

June<br />

Click here to discover where to see the lavender in Provence

G i v e A<br />

Click on the pic to<br />

enter the draw<br />

Win a copy of My Good Life in France by<br />

Janine Marsh, editor of The Good Life<br />

France!<br />

On a grey and dismal February day, Janine Marsh went<br />

on a day trip to France to buy wine for her dad. She<br />

somehow ended up buying a bargain basement barn in<br />

the middle of nowhere which was neither planned or<br />

expected... It’s a love story and the tale of one woman’s<br />

journey from city life to rural bliss – at least that was the<br />

plan…<br />

Click on the pic to<br />

enter the draw<br />

Win a copy of Le Selfie Gascon<br />

by Perry Taylor<br />

Le Selfie Gascon is Perry's third book of<br />

humorous drawings from France. It’s a work<br />

of wry wit and lots of fun from the artist who<br />

takes inspiration from daily life in the south<br />

of France. This is a lovely hardback book<br />

with 86 original drawings that will make you<br />

smile, your friends will want to borrow this<br />

one and never return it!<br />

Click on the pic to<br />

enter the draw<br />

Win a copy of Eight<br />

Months in Provence by<br />

Diane Covington-Carter<br />

Win a copy of this book that's written<br />

from the heart, a charming tale that's<br />

easy to read. An inspiring "it's never<br />

too late", feel good memoir that will<br />

sweep you along on the author's<br />

journey as she finds herself in the<br />

France of her dreams. At the age of<br />

50, American Diane rented out her<br />

home and set off for an adventure in<br />

France…<br />

Read our review

w a y s - WIN<br />

Click on the pic to<br />

enter the draw<br />

Win a copy of In the French<br />

Kitchen with kids by Mardi<br />

Michaels<br />

Mardi shows that French food doesn’t have to<br />

be complicated. The result is an elegant,<br />

approachable cookbook featuring recipes<br />

tailored for young chefs and their families.<br />

From savory dishes like Omelettes, Croque-<br />

Monsieurs or Steak Frites to sweet treats like<br />

Profiteroles, Madeleines or Crème Brûlée,<br />

readers will find many French classics here.<br />

With helpful timetables to plan out baking<br />

projects, as well as tips on how to get kids<br />

involved in the cooking, this book breaks<br />

down any preconceived notion that French<br />

cuisine is too fancy or too difficult for kids to<br />

master. With Mardi’s warm, empowering and<br />

encouraging instructions, kids of all ages will<br />

be begging to help out in the kitchen every<br />

day of the week.<br />

Win a copy of Riviera Dreaming<br />

by Maureen Emerson<br />

A fascinating book which explores the lives of<br />

architect Barry Dierks and his lover Eric<br />

Sawyer. They changed the face of the<br />

French Riviera, developing an architecture<br />

empire remodelling and building homes and<br />

gardens for their star studded cliental<br />

including film executive Jack Warner,<br />

playwright Somerset Maugham and the rich<br />

and famous of the early 20th century. Behind<br />

those walls weredscandalous affairs,<br />

exquisite parties, politicians letting loose and<br />

royals partying. Winston Churchill, Bette<br />

Davis, Wallis Simpson , Picasso , Lloyd<br />

George, Duke of Windsor, J.P Morgan, The<br />

Rothchilds and many more feature in this<br />

well researched book that’s filled with<br />

fabulous anecdotes.<br />

Click on the pic to<br />

enter the draw

A British snail farmer...<br />

in France<br />

A British expat in northern France set local tongues wagging when he set up a<br />

snail farm, Janine Marsh investigates…<br />

Location, location, location<br />

Mike Collins went to France to study<br />

languages and work for a large company.<br />

Travelling round France, he loved<br />

discovering new places and new tastes and<br />

snails became a favourite, so he decided to<br />

visit a snail farm sure that he’d find the<br />

tastiest escargot there. He was disappointed<br />

when he tried the great classic: snails in<br />

garlic sauce. “<strong>No</strong> personality” is how he<br />

describes the dish, he knew it could be so<br />

much better.<br />

Already unhappy in his corporate role, that<br />

snail dish inspired Mike to dream of opening<br />

a snail farm of his own and create the<br />

tastiest recipes. He spent a couple of years<br />

researching and studying, working out what<br />

would be the ideal location and finally in<br />

2008 he took the plunge, gave up his job<br />

and started a snail farm in the village of<br />

Râches, <strong>No</strong>rd, Hauts de France.<br />

Mike’s two big requirements were for a large<br />

garden which needed to be marshy. As<br />

soon as he saw what is now his house, with<br />

its big garden near the regional national<br />

Park Scarpe-Escaut he knew it would be<br />

perfect.<br />

It’s a lush, gentle area of wetlands, two<br />

major rivers, forests, picturesque villages<br />

but close to the cities of Lille and Arras. The<br />

house is on a main route “about 22,000 cars<br />

pass by every day which I knew would be<br />

great for trade” says Mike. “Plus this area is<br />

like a cultural melting pot with Brits, Belgians<br />

(we’re close to the border) Spanish, Flemish<br />

and Dutch expats and visitors. People here<br />

are open to innovation in cuisine”.<br />

Setting up at a snail farm<br />

Snails are a much-loved food in France<br />

where more than 30,000 tons are consumed<br />

annually though less than 5% are farmed in<br />

France, most including the famous<br />

“Burgundy snails”, come from eastern<br />

Europe. But, when Mike told the local mayor<br />

to tell him about his business proposal “he<br />

thought I was crazy, but he was courteous<br />

about it” recalls Mike. Undeterred, he told<br />

the Mayor that he would set an ornamental<br />

snail on the roundabout outside the farm<br />

when his farm was successful. Go there<br />

today, and you can’t miss the giant white<br />

2.5m snail statue!

Mike created an enclosure for the snails,<br />

what he calls a “park” in the back garden. It<br />

didn't cost much financially to set up but he<br />

invested a lot of time studying snail farming<br />

and took courses and sat exams.<br />

Only two species of snail are farmed in<br />

France: small grey snails -petit-gris (helix<br />

aspersa aspersa) and big grey snails - grosgris<br />

(helix aspersa maxima). Mike decided<br />

to go for the latter, “they’re meatier and<br />

tastier” he says.<br />

Snail farming starts at a “snails pace” says<br />

Mike, starting with breeding. “Mating takes<br />

hours, anything up to two days from start to<br />

finish, tantric” he grins. When the tiny<br />

babies are born in spring, Mike transfers<br />

them carefully and slowly by hand to the<br />

wooden posts in the enclosure. “There’s no<br />

certainty in this game” he says, “I always<br />

panic about them at this stage”. As they<br />

grow the snails roam their park freely, Mike<br />

stops them escaping “mostly” by rubbing<br />

black soap, a natural repellent, along the<br />

top of the fence that encloses the park.<br />

Some farms use electric fences, but Mike’s<br />

philosophy is about keeping things as<br />

natural and ethical as possible.<br />

He doesn’t use chemicals or pesticides but<br />

grows plants the snails love such as<br />

mustard which feeds the soil by absorbing<br />

nitrogen from the air and transferring it to,<br />

and improving, the soil, as well as providing<br />

shelter from rain and sun. His dog Wanda<br />

has been trained to work with ferrets to clear<br />

out any unwanted visitors – scaring off birds<br />

and rodents.

The snails take 150 days from egg to<br />

maturity. “It’s a lot of work” he confesses, “I<br />

doubt if I’ll ever get rich doing this, but I love<br />

what I do, it’s my passion”.<br />

but has help at busy times of the year from<br />

students who gain valuable work experience<br />

for planned careers in the catering and<br />

restaurant industry.<br />

The snails grow all through the summer and<br />

are harvested in autumn. They are killed by<br />

being dipped in boiling water, “it’s<br />

immediate” says Mike. The meat is<br />

separated from the shells and blanched,<br />

then it’s rapidly chilled or goes into dishes<br />

which are frozen “it’s the best way to retain<br />

the nutritional value and the taste”. The<br />

shells are scrupulously cleaned and used<br />

for presentation.<br />

“In theory, we can keep the meat for up to<br />

18 months” says Mike “but that never<br />

happens, we always sell everything well<br />

before that”.<br />

All the work at the farm is done by hand,<br />

from harvesting to cleaning and preparation<br />

of the dishes. Mike does everything himself

Mike is a walking encyclopaedia of snail facts and tells me that gastropods have been<br />

consumed by man since the first days of humanity. Until the 14th century, says Mike,<br />

there were some who thought that snails were in league with the devil “because they<br />

had no legs and were close to the ground”. The Church forbad the eating of them and<br />

they became the food of the poorest in France, along with frogs’ legs. When famine<br />

struck, the church relented but insisted that the snail be “purged of its sins”. They<br />

decided the way to do this was to make the snail “spit”, which was done by sprinkling<br />

salt which causes the snail to create mucus, a defence mechanism.<br />

Though a sustainable resource, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that farming snails<br />

in France became automated and industrialised. The industry is now regulated,<br />

farming of snails in certain months of the year is forbidden and in <strong>19</strong>79 a law was<br />

bought in to protect the species.<br />

These days that snail spit has a high value – it’s used in medicine and predominantly in<br />

cough mixture. There are just three ingredients in it says Mike, water, calcium and basic<br />

animal molecule products.<br />

“It’s not really slimy at all” he assures me and wipes a snail across the back of my hand<br />

and tells me to rub my hands together. He’s right, my skin is left feeling peachy soft,<br />

clean and dry - “it’s pure protein” Mike assures me. <strong>No</strong> wonder cosmetic companies are<br />

investigating snail juice in the use of skin cream.<br />

“Our ancestors would rub snails on wounds to heal themselves… and if you have a<br />

cough, lick one” he urges and offers me a large snail which I decline as politely as<br />

possible. He passes its undercarriage over his tongue and it immediately produces spit<br />

“it’s really not that bad” he says. I’m not won over.

Success Snail farming<br />

It didn’t take long for the locals to discover<br />

that despite being British, Mike’s snail farm<br />

is one of the best. “Yes, they did think it was<br />

crazy that a Brit was growing one of the<br />

most French things you could possibly get!”<br />

he laughs “I think they came first for the<br />

curiosity factor but now they come for the<br />

taste”.<br />

As a youngster, often relocating with his<br />

soldier father, he loved spending time in<br />

army kitchens and learned to cook. His<br />

biggest success has been to develop “heat<br />

and serve” snail dishes and now offers 29<br />

different recipes ranging from the classic<br />

classic snails in garlic butter that started him<br />

on this route, to snail sausages, smoked<br />

snails with goats’ cheese and fig, snails with<br />

Roquefort and walnut butter in a wafer case<br />

and his “tikka masala snails” and more. His<br />

reputation and his clientele have grown and<br />

the little shop at the farm has daily queues.<br />

He also supplies restaurants and says he<br />

was once “flabbergasted to find Chef Steven<br />

Raymon of the Michelin star Rouge Barr<br />

restaurant in Lille in my shop” The chef<br />

bought 3000 snails! This British farmer<br />

who’s changing the taste of snails in France<br />

is “cook, farmer, recipe developer,<br />

salesman, book keeper, negotiator and a<br />

whole lot more… no two days are ever the<br />

same and you have to expect the<br />

unexpected”.<br />

Details of the farm and shop address and<br />

opening times: https://www.facebook.com/<br />


Meet the Brits who run the best<br />

Luxury B&B in France!<br />

June 2005 was a difficult month for Peter Friend and his partner Mark. After a<br />

change of jobs, relocation and redundancy they decided they didn’t want the sort of<br />

stressful lives they were leading in marketing and business development for much<br />

longer. Considering their skills, passion for travel, good food and wine, setting up<br />

their own luxury B&B in France by the time were 40 was their goal. Peter Friend tells<br />

how they went from their jobs in the UK to running the <strong>No</strong>. 1 luxury B&B in France…<br />

Once we decided we were going to move to<br />

France we devoted all our spare time to the<br />

search for the ideal property and location.<br />

Property pages of the Sunday papers were<br />

read from top to bottom, scrolling through<br />

endless internet sites until the early hours<br />

became a new sport. It was, at times,<br />

overwhelming – we had only been on<br />

holiday to France a few times and,<br />

admittedly, did not know the regions well.<br />

We wanted to be in the south of France for<br />

the weather and longer tourist season. We<br />

wanted a medium sized town with good<br />

amenities, open year-round, with lots to see<br />

and do within an hour. The location had to<br />

be well connected and accessible by road,<br />

rail and air and not reliant on one airport<br />

nor one airline. Finally, we did not want to<br />

be in an area where there was too large an<br />

expat community.<br />

An essential requirement for us was that,<br />

when the doors to our new business<br />

opened, it had to be a viable business.<br />

From research, we knew the maximum<br />

number of rooms for a B&B in France was<br />

five and so our search for a minimum of 6<br />

bedrooms was key as was the ability to<br />

have all of these rooms as ensuites. Added<br />

to this, space for sizable dining room, guest<br />

lounges, garden and kitchen were givens…<br />

with space for a pool and to develop the<br />

business further.<br />

After much searching, we decided the Tarn<br />

area would be perfect. We looked at several<br />

properties and eventually the details for a<br />

house in Mazamet seemed to be absolutely<br />

perfect. Eight bedrooms, six of which were<br />

already ensuite, a town with a population of<br />

12,000 on the edge of a national park; six<br />

airports within 2 hours serving many<br />

European destinations and an abundance<br />

of space. Add to this the fact

that it's close to several major tourist<br />

destinations including fabulous<br />

Carcassonne, Toulouse and Albi - it ticked<br />

all our boxes.<br />

Finding the dream home<br />

As we drove over the Monts de Lacaune<br />

from nearby Roquefort on July day, the<br />

clouds began to clear, the temperatures<br />

started to climb, and we descended into<br />

the town of Mazamet – once famous for its<br />

international wool trade. The azure blue<br />

skies and the stunning Montagne <strong>No</strong>ire<br />

providing a picture-perfect backdrop and,<br />

as we were an hour early for our<br />

rendezvous at the property, we made our<br />

way into the centre ville. We stumbled<br />

across an amazing chocolatier with a<br />

queue out the door – which, being British,<br />

we dutifully joined.<br />

Mazamet felt right. There was a small<br />

Sunday morning market selling the<br />

essentials and a few bars where French<br />

men sat on the terrace - sipping espressos<br />

waiting for their wives to come out from<br />

morning mass. What struck us was the<br />

beautiful architecture of the buildings in the<br />

centre of town which would not have<br />

looked out of place along the boulevards of<br />

a much larger, grander, town.<br />

As we turned into rue Pasteur, there ‘she’<br />

was – standing proud, the burgundy<br />

coloured shutters shining in the summer<br />

sun. The moment we set foot through the<br />

front door we knew that <strong>No</strong>. 4, rue Pasteur,<br />

Mazamet was meant to be ours.<br />

We learnt that the property was built in<br />

<strong>19</strong>34 by an accountant in Mazamet’s wool<br />

industry. The owners explained that the<br />

property needed to be re-wired but that was<br />

the extent of the major works need (little<br />

did we know then that it would take more<br />

than three years to complete all the work!).

When it was time to head home to the UK,<br />

we were about an hour into the journey<br />

when we pulled off the autoroute to make<br />

the call to the estate agent to make an<br />

offer… by the time we had reached Calais<br />

that evening, we had agreed on a price.<br />

Sorting out the basics<br />

We borrowed funds from a French bank<br />

and endured what seemed like an endless<br />

stream of paperwork by fax and email. We<br />

used a specialist bilingual solicitor to assist<br />

with the purchase (money well spent for<br />

the peace of mind) .<br />

We signed the “compromis du vent” in<br />

September which also acted as a secondviewing.<br />

We also met a local builder to talk<br />

through our plans for renovating and an<br />

electrician to obtain a ‘devis’ (quote) for the<br />

re-wire.<br />

Just before Christmas 2005, we returned to<br />

Mazamet to sign the ‘act definitive’ (the<br />

final part of the sale which ended with the<br />

handing over the keys to 4 rue Pasteur.<br />

As we returned to our new home and<br />

entered the vast and empty property, the<br />

reality soon sunk in and so began three<br />

years of renovations; many sleepless<br />

nights, a flood and a fire.<br />

Meanwhile we continued to work in the UK<br />

where we enrolled in evening school to<br />

learn French.<br />

By Easter 2009, the year we both<br />

celebrated reaching 40, and after countless<br />

trips to check on progress, we were made<br />

the move to France permanent. By then<br />

we’d made many friends with our<br />

neighbours, French and English, and found<br />

Mazamet a friendly, welcoming place.<br />

Open for Business<br />

We set up a website to promote our B&B<br />

named La Villa de Mazamet and less than<br />

a week later our first guests arrived.<br />

We invited the Mayor and the local press to<br />

an opening day. We printed flyers for local<br />

businesses offering a favourable rate and<br />

we encouraged every guest to leave us a<br />

Trip Advisor review.

Peter’s top 5 tips for a successful<br />

B&B in France<br />

1. Location and accessibility to good<br />

transport links cannot be under<br />

estimated.<br />

2. Get involved with your community,<br />

local trades people, tourist office, etc.<br />

from a very early stage so that they<br />

engage with you and support your<br />

business. Part of our ethos has always<br />

been to make sure we support the<br />

community in which we are based - for<br />

every 1€ we spend on running the<br />

business, 85 cents are spent in the town<br />

of Mazamet (and don’t be afraid to shout<br />

about that too, especially to your local<br />

Mayor!).<br />

Reservations started to trickle in and we<br />

built up a good reputation as THE place to<br />

stay in the area. Being so close to top ranked<br />

destinations like Carcassonne, Toulouse and<br />

Albi helps.<br />

Running a B&B as a business (and as your<br />

sole income) is hard work, with days starting<br />

early and finishing late. Serving dinner as we<br />

do for several nights a week significantly<br />

adds to your workload.<br />

La Villa de Mazamet has been a dream come<br />

true for us. We love welcoming guests from<br />

around the world and have met some truly<br />

wonderful people, from all walks of life, who<br />

have become friends. Guests will often say “if<br />

you are come to xxxx city, you have a place to<br />

stay”, they mean it and we have had some<br />

wonderful holidays as a result from<br />

Melbourne to Manchester.<br />

2018 is our 10th anniversary season and we<br />

are immensely proud that, today, La Villa de<br />

Mazamet has been rated one of the top B&Bs<br />

in France for eight consecutive years on Trip<br />

Advisor, is included in Le Guide Michelin, the<br />

Good Hotel Guide and the Sawdays’ guide.<br />

www.villademazamet.com<br />

3. Listen to your guests and ask for<br />

feedback on their stay, your amenities<br />

and facilities. Plough some of your profits<br />

back in each year to make sure you not<br />

only keep on top with the décor and<br />

maintenance of your property but also<br />

add to the guest experience – return<br />

guests will always notice the smallest of<br />

detail and love it when you have taken<br />

their feedback on board.<br />

4. Get your website and marketing plan<br />

in place at least a year prior to opening<br />

your doors Engage with guests via social<br />

media and E-newsletters to help develop<br />

return visits.<br />

See your website as THE main<br />

marketing tool and invest in professional<br />

photography – this is a potential guest’s<br />

first engagement with you and you need<br />

to get in right<br />

5. Work with other B&Bs locally and<br />

regionally – don’t just see them as<br />

competition as you can work with them<br />

during busy periods or when you might<br />

need them to take a loyal guest you can’t<br />


Never mind a pretty<br />

house, with specialist<br />

hobby properties it's<br />

all about the quality<br />

of the grass or vines<br />

says Liz Rowlinson...

HOBBY<br />

HOMES<br />

Vineyards<br />

Many of us have a romantic notion of owning<br />

some vines so we can produce our own wine<br />

to bottle and share with friends and family.<br />

It’s a trend that has grown internationally with<br />

Chinese and American buyers dreaming of<br />

having their own Grand Cru.<br />

But buying a vineyard where the vines are<br />

too young, too old, or not planted to the<br />

correct density can turn your dream sour. It’s<br />

essential you seek the advice of a specialist<br />

vineyard agent. Leggett Immobillie's Xavier<br />

Routurier comes from a vineyard-owning<br />

family and advises buyers in his native<br />

Bordeaux, Bergerac and Lot-et-Garonne<br />

areas.<br />

He says that the typical hobby vineyard is 1<br />

to 2 hectares (15,000 bottles of wine a year),<br />

with a nice house attached, and costs<br />

€400,000 to €1,000,000. This compares with<br />

a professional vineyard of 15 - 25 hectares<br />

costing €1.5 - €3 million, depending on the<br />

renovation and size of the chateau/house. Of<br />

course prices will be lower outside the<br />

internationally famous Bordeaux region. “The<br />

biggest mistake buyers can make is to buy a<br />

vineyard that doesn’t conform to the latest<br />

regulations – and/or the quality of the vines<br />

and terroir is poor. The peak age for vines is<br />

around 20 years.”<br />

Vineyard properties selection<br />

€1,449,000 Bergerac, Dordogne<br />

Charming and cosy vineyard in AOC<br />

Pécharmant, 10.30 hectares. Near all<br />

commodities. Details<br />

€2,730,000 Commercial in Gironde<br />

This beautiful château has been<br />

transformed into a well run and profitable<br />

wine business - 20 ha of AOC Bordeaux<br />

vines. Details

Farms<br />

With land prices currently very attractive in France, a steady<br />

flow of UK farmers are heading to France to expand their<br />

holdings. Whilst northern France is best for cereal growing,<br />

Brittany is prime for pigs. Poitou-Charentes offers huge tracts<br />

of maize and sunflowers, whereas the Limousin is famous for<br />

its attractive rolling cattle and sheep grazing countryside.<br />

Hobby farmers tend to own less than the 50-hectare plus professionals and it’s possible,<br />

for example, to get a lovely house with 20-30 hectares of surrounding land for €300,000 in<br />

the Haute-Vienne.<br />

Farm property agent, Colin Appleyard, at Leggett Immobillier helps buyers to purchase the<br />

right property particularly in the cattle and sheep grazing areas in the Limousin. He often<br />

works closely with SAFER, the French land agency, to ensure a rapid installation<br />

procedure and rapid access to all the subsidies that are available.<br />

“Hobby farming is a growing trend, although in such cases, to be totally self sufficient,<br />

owners would need a source of secondary income from gîtes, B&B, or indeed camping on<br />

the farm” he says. Such properties are often available, providing a great opportunity for a<br />

wonderful, peaceful lifestyle as well as self sufficiency.<br />

245,000<br />

530,000<br />

4 bedroom farmhouse & numerous outbuildings<br />

- all in excellent condition, Bussiere<br />

Galant, Haute Vienne, Limousin. 3 hectares<br />

of land previously run as a cattle & sheep<br />

rearing farm. Ideal as a small holding, close<br />

to amenites and 36km from Limoges airport.<br />

Details<br />

Working sheep farm in Le Dorat, Haute<br />

Vienne Limousin. Organic status, 70<br />

hectares land, 5 bedroom, renovated<br />

house, swimming pool, 3 stone bards & a<br />

tunnel barn. 50km from Limoges airport,<br />

amenities close by.<br />

Details<br />

Click here to see a selection of working farms for sale in France

Equestrian<br />

The cost of agricultural land averages around €10,000 per<br />

hectare in France and the cost of upkeep of horses is lower<br />

than in the UK. This is why Midi-Pyrénées and Poitou-<br />

Charentes attract those seeking equestrian homes.<br />

As with farming properties, location is all about the quality of<br />

the grass. The far south can be hot in summer! The rule of<br />

thumb is to buy a hectare per horse – double the amount<br />

required in the UK. Whatever equestiran disclipline interests<br />

you, you'll find properties to suit.<br />

Prices range from around €200,000 for houses with land,<br />

through to around €5 million for studs, liveries, competition or<br />

racing yards and châteaux with hundreds of hectares.<br />

Martin Sheach, Leggett's equestrian expert, says: “The typical<br />

buyer who is moving over with their horses enquires initially<br />

about the equestrian facilities. Then they ask about the<br />

features and quality of the property.”<br />

424,000<br />

Beautiful 4 bedroom house in<br />

Montaigu de Quercy, Tarn et<br />

Garonne. Ideal for horse lovers<br />

with equestrian facilities, gîte,<br />

swimming pool, surrounded by<br />

22 hectares, most fenced &<br />

paddocked. Just outside a<br />

busy village.<br />

Details<br />

3 Storey 5 bedroom country<br />

house in Bossay Sur Claise,<br />

Indre et Loire, Centre. 15<br />

hectare estate with<br />

swimming pool, gites, stables<br />

for 21 horses, training track,<br />

workshops, tennis court, spa<br />

and kennels. Reduced from<br />

€795,000<br />

Details<br />

630,700<br />

For help and advice on buying a hobby<br />

home email info@leggett.fr

Do you have to be wealthy to<br />

benefit from talking to a<br />

financial advisor?<br />

“It’s a misconception that you have to be a wealthy expat in France to benefit from talking<br />

to a financial advisor” says Jennie Poate, financial manager of Beacon Global Wealth.<br />

“Often people think that if they don’t have a lot of assets, then a financial planner can’t help<br />

them. But, they could be really missing out on making the most of the assets they do have<br />

and how to plan for their future.”<br />

Case History<br />

Philip and Julie were a typical British couple who planned to move to France for a less<br />

stressful life. They wanted to achieve semi-retirement whilst running their B&B near Le<br />

Mans in the Pays de la Loire.<br />

They had never used a Financial Adviser in the UK but had accumulated personal<br />

pensions and an amount of money left over from their UK house sale. They asked Jennie<br />

how she could help them and we followed their story.<br />

Did you consider that you weren’t wealthy enough to warrant the services of a<br />

financial advisor?<br />

We really didn’t know what our assets were worth. We had an ISA here, a pension there,<br />

savings accounts dotted about that we hadn’t touched for some time, and the funds from<br />

our house sale. Moving to France was a big step and it did cross our minds that we might<br />

need advice. We didn’t have a known financial advisor to turn to because we didn’t<br />

consider ourselves rich enough quite frankly!<br />

How did you end up using a financial adviser in France?<br />

The concerns we had about our finances came to a head when we actually made the move<br />

to France. Experiencing a new tax environment, unsure of whether our assets would have<br />

to remain in Sterling or be converted to Euros - it was confusing, and we needed advice!<br />

We were lucky enough to be introduced to Jennie by a contact we made shortly after we<br />

arrived in France who had highly recommended her services. We met with her in our new<br />

house. Jennie could tell that we needed to feel comfortable with her and worked with us at<br />

our pace. This was so important to us, we needed to be completely confident that our<br />

advisor had our best interests at heart, we have worked really hard to be in this position<br />

and we felt that Jennie understood that.

We began to realise how important it was to have sound financial advice, we are not rich<br />

by any means but there’s no point in giving it away we thought. Our approach in the past<br />

was just to leave things as they were. Jennie helped us to pull together all our savings,<br />

pensions and investments and consolidate them so that we were able to easily see the<br />

overall value of our assets. We were then able to invest appropriately based on how we felt<br />

about risk.<br />

In our case Jennie found us a practical investment solution that had a choice of currency<br />

and was easy to understand. Adding our funds into an Assurance Vie policy meant the<br />

funds can sit there growing tax free until we need them so that it’s working for us in the<br />

meantime. She explained the tax advantages for withdrawals and is always on hand to<br />

answer questions. The biggest peace of mind is the inheritance advantages; having no<br />

children means that it is important to us to pass on what we haven’t spent to other family<br />

members and that can attract high inheritance tax charges.<br />

She amalgamated our personal pensions so that we have a ‘pot’ each. And we have a<br />

choice as to when we take the funds and how much. Two years down the line, we know we<br />

have made the right choices.<br />

Jennie could tell that we needed to really trust her as an individual, not just talk to a<br />

company representative holding a stack of leaflets and forms. The support we’ve had has<br />

made us feel much more secure and to understand our finances better. We’re still not rich<br />

but we know exactly where we stand financially and we’re able to plan for the future in a<br />

much more knowledgeable way. And we’re loving the good life in France!<br />

If you would like expert advice, contact Jennie Poate or a free, no obligation consultation:<br />

jennie@bgwealthmanagement.net or via the Beacon Global Wealth website<br />

The financial advisers trading<br />

under Beacon Wealth<br />

Management are members of<br />

Nexus Global (IFA Network).<br />

Nexus Global is a division within<br />

Blacktower Financial<br />

Management (International)<br />

Limited (BFMI). All approved<br />

individual members of Nexus<br />

Global are Appointed<br />

Representatives of BFMI. BFMI is<br />

licensed and regulated by the<br />

Gibraltar Financial Services<br />

Commission and bound by their<br />

rules under licence number<br />

FSC00805B.<br />

And the information on this page<br />

is intended as an introduction<br />

only and is not designed to offer<br />

solutions or advice. Beacon<br />

Global Wealth Management can<br />

accept no responsibility<br />

whatsoever for losses incurred<br />

by acting on the information on<br />

this page.

The Basics of Banking in<br />

France<br />

There may not be huge differences when it<br />

comes to banking in France and the UK or<br />

other countries, however there maybe<br />

some. Sian Lee-Duclos of CA Britline<br />

explains.<br />

Before looking at the general differences,<br />

let’s break the myth that many people have<br />

that unless you have a French address<br />

(main residence or holiday home) you<br />

cannot open a bank account in France. This<br />

may indeed be the case with some banks,<br />

where their policy doesn't include accounts<br />

for non-French address holders. However<br />

at CA Britline, that's not the case. They offer<br />

an English speaking online banking service<br />

that's open to residents of the UK, Ireland<br />

and France.<br />

Here is a simple guide to banking and how<br />

to avoid the snags and stress that may<br />

occur.<br />

Banks in France<br />

The majority of UK banks, no matter at<br />

which branch you have opened your<br />

account, can provide you with an over-thecounter<br />

service and carry out the requested<br />

transactions on your account, no matter<br />

where you may be in the country.<br />

In France, many banks are co-operative<br />

mutual banks which can be regionalised.<br />

Credit Agricole is one of these. This means<br />

that your account, if held in a branch of<br />

Credit Agricole <strong>No</strong>rmandy, cannot be<br />

visualised, (and therefore managed) in a<br />

region outside <strong>No</strong>rmandy. You will still be<br />

able to use each branch to withdraw cash<br />

from their ATM’s but any day to day<br />

discussions and in-branch management of<br />

your account must be carried out with your<br />

original branch. This can take some getting<br />

used to, especially if you normally do<br />

everything over the counter.<br />

Cheque books<br />

Making payments<br />

Cheques are still commonly used in France<br />

without a cheque guarantee card. It's<br />

important to have funds in your account to<br />

cover the cheque. Postdating a cheque in<br />

France isn't relevant as the beneficiary can<br />

pay it in and it will be processed<br />

immediately. If this happens and you go<br />

overdrawn, you may become what is called<br />

Interdit bancaire and may be banned from<br />

writing cheques for up to 5 years. This may<br />

affect all your French accounts. If it does<br />

happen, contact your branch immediately to<br />

resolve the matter.<br />

Debit cards<br />

Debit cards in France tend to come with an<br />

annual fee (payable monthly or annually).<br />

Debit cards are usually classed as<br />

Immediate or Deferred debit (all payments<br />

being taken on one given date of the month).<br />

<strong>No</strong>t to be confused with a UK Credit card<br />

which may have similar facilities.

Debit card limits are built in for withdrawals<br />

of cash per week and purchase limits per<br />

month. For example standard cards offer<br />

withdrawals of 450€ per 7 day rolling period<br />

and monthly purchase limits of 2300€. Go<br />

over these limits and you're likely to<br />

experience your card being rejected online,<br />

in shops and ATMs.<br />

CA Britline offer tailor made debit cards with<br />

higher spending limits. You can use them in<br />

France, UK, overseas whether that's inside<br />

or outside of the EU, and withdrawals and<br />

purchases are fee free.<br />

Banking Fees<br />

From bank to bank and region to region the<br />

fees applied may be slightly different. For<br />

example at CA Britline fees are the same as<br />

any other classic branch of Credit Agricole<br />

in <strong>No</strong>rmandy but will not necessarily be the<br />

same as a Credit Agricole in Burgundy or<br />

other regions.<br />

Every year a fee leaflet is sent to all<br />

customers around three months prior to the<br />

fees becoming applicable.<br />

once your application for an account has<br />

been successfully made, you'll receive a<br />

telephone call to take you through how<br />

banking with CA Britline works, and how<br />

your account needs can be tailored.<br />

CA Britline can provide you with a fullyequipped<br />

current account, debit card and<br />

chequebook. There are additional services<br />

if you wish to personalise your account.<br />

The account allows the set-up of direct<br />

debits or standing orders, and the<br />

management of your account can be<br />

conducted online. Demos in English are<br />

available via www.britline.com to guide you<br />

through how this works.<br />

The service also provides Insurance as well<br />

as savings accounts, loans and mortgages.<br />

And, there's a bespoke International<br />

Transfer service with a dedicated specialist<br />

team.<br />

For further information contact CA Britline 00<br />

33 (2)31 55 67 89<br />

Website: www.britline.com<br />

Who are CA Britline?<br />

CA Britline are a branch of Credit Agricole<br />

<strong>No</strong>rmandy. They've been around since <strong>19</strong>99<br />

and offer a complete English speaking,<br />

online and distance banking service for<br />

residents in the UK, Ireland and France.<br />

They have a bilingual British/French team<br />

who understand your expectations when it<br />

comes to banking.<br />

The experience of opening a French bank<br />

account is made easy from the outset with<br />

the ability to apply for your account online<br />

and without having to provide a French<br />

address.<br />

Much of the support is in English and when<br />

you decide a French account is needed and,

Pre order M<br />

book at: Eat<br />

In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Fa<br />

Mardi Michels.<br />

From the prolific blogger behind eat. live. travel. write comes a new cook<br />

and Francophiles of all ages. Forget the fuss and bring simple, delicious<br />

kitchen with Mardi Michels as your guide. In her first book, Mardi shows<br />

have to be complicated. The result is an elegant, approachable cookboo<br />

for young chefs and their families. From savory dishes like Omelettes, C<br />

Frites to sweet treats like Profiteroles, Madeleines or Crème Brûlée, read<br />

classics here. With helpful timetables to plan out baking projects, and ti<br />

involved in cooking, this book breaks down any preconceived notion tha<br />

or too difficult for kids to master. With Mardi's warm, empowering and e<br />

of all ages will be begging to help out in the kitchen every day of the we

Ratatouille Tian<br />

by Mardi Michels<br />

Serves 2<br />

Prep time: 25 minutes Cook<br />

time: 65–75 minutes<br />


1 small (31/2 oz/100 g) yellow<br />

onion, thinly sliced<br />

2 cloves garlic minced 2<br />

tablespoons olive oil<br />

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt<br />

Freshly ground black pepper,<br />

for seasoning<br />

2 baby or 1 small (7 oz/200 g)<br />

eggplant, thinly sliced<br />

1 medium (5 oz/150 g)<br />

zucchini, thinly sliced<br />

3 Roma tomatoes (10 oz/300<br />

g), thinly sliced in rounds<br />

1/2 teaspoon dried Herbes de<br />

Provence<br />

Olive oil, for drizzling<br />

Flaky sea salt and freshly<br />

ground black pepper, for<br />

seasoning<br />

ardi's fabulous cook<br />

.Live. Travel.Write<br />

mily to Make and Enjoy by<br />

book for parents, children<br />

French dishes to your home<br />

that French food doesn't<br />

k featuring recipes tailored<br />

roque-Monsieurs or Steak<br />

ers will find many French<br />

ps on how to get kids<br />

t French cuisine is too fancy<br />

ncouraging instructions, kids<br />

ek.<br />

You may not know what a tian is, but if you’ve seen the<br />

movie Ratatouille, you’ll be familiar with a version of<br />

this presentation of vegetables sliced thinly, cooked<br />

and served in an elegant stack. The dish you see in the<br />

movie was created by Chef Thomas Keller (of The<br />

French Laundry, among other restaurants), who was a<br />

consultant for the movie. My version of those stacked<br />

vegetables is a little easier for younger or novice cooks<br />

to assemble, but once you’ve mastered it, you’re well<br />

on your way to creating restaurant-worthy ratatouille!<br />

It’s important to choose vegetables that have a similar<br />

diameter, so they stack evenly in the baking dish.<br />

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C).<br />

2. Place the onion slices and minced garlic in the<br />

bottom of a 5- x 7-inch (13 x 18 cm) baking dish.<br />

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the 1/2<br />

teaspoon flaky sea salt and some freshly ground black<br />

pepper.<br />

3. Stack the eggplant slices upright against the long<br />

side of the dish so they are slightly overlapping each<br />

other. They should be quite tightly packed. Follow with<br />

a row of zucchini slices, arranged in the same manner.<br />

Next, make a row of tomato slices.<br />

4. Continue in this manner until you have no more<br />

vegetable slices left.<br />

You should have enough vegetable slices and room to<br />

make at least two rows of each vegetable.<br />

5. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the vegetables,<br />

sprinkle with the Herbes de Provence, cover the dish<br />

with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.<br />

6. Remove the foil from the dish, drizzle with a little<br />

more olive oil and bake, uncovered, for a further 20 to<br />

30 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through.<br />

7. Season to taste. Serve warm or at room<br />

temperature.<br />

Did you know that “tian” is the name not only for this baked<br />

vegetable stew but also the dish it’s cooked in? Traditionally, it<br />

means a shallow earthenware casserole dish, but you can use a<br />

ceramic baking dish for the same effect!

Serves 6<br />

Prep time: 20 minutes<br />

Bake time: 45 to 55 minutes<br />

Chilling time: 4 hours to overnight<br />


For the caramel:<br />

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar 2<br />

tablespoons water<br />

For the custard:<br />

3 large egg yolks 2 large eggs<br />

1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar<br />

1 cup (250 mL) 2% milk<br />

1 cup (250 mL) heavy (35%) cream<br />

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract<br />

Special Equipment<br />

Six 1/2-cup (125 ml) ramekins

Crème Caramel<br />

by Mardi Michels<br />

Make the caramel:<br />

1. Place sugar and water in a pot, and swirl them around gently with your finger or a<br />

chopstick to make sure the water is absorbed. Place the pot over medium-high heat. Do not<br />

stir.<br />

2. Once the sugar has melted and is liquid, cook for 4 to 5 minutes,<br />

swirling the pan occasionally, but never stirring, until the caramel is a deep golden color. If<br />

sugar goes up the side of the pan when you are swirling, use a pastry brush dipped in water<br />

to clean the sides of the pot.<br />

3.Pour the caramel directly into the ramekins, swirling to evenly coat the bottom of each one.<br />

Place the ramekins in a deep-sided baking dish or roasting pan, and place this on the<br />

countertop close to the oven.<br />

Make the custard:<br />

1. Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C). Fill a kettle with water and bring it to a boil.<br />

2. In a large, heatproof bowl, using handheld electric beaters, beat<br />

the egg yolks, eggs and sugar on high speed until pale and starting to thicken slightly, 2 to 3<br />

minutes. Place the bowl on a damp cloth or paper towels to hold it in place later when you<br />

are whisking<br />

one-handed.<br />

3. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, heat the milk and cream over medium-high heat. Bring<br />

this to a simmer (do not boil) and immediately remove from the heat.<br />

4. Slowly pour about one-quarter of the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly<br />

so you don’t scramble your eggs! Once this is completely combined, add the rest of the hot<br />

cream and the vanilla, whisking constantly.<br />

5. Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the baking<br />

dish, being careful not to get any water in<br />

the custard, until it’s about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This is called baking in a<br />

bain-marie and it cooks the custard gently.<br />

7. Carefully place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 to<br />

55 minutes. The outside of the custard should be cooked but the center of the custards<br />

might still be a little jiggly.<br />

8. Remove the dish from the oven and, using rubber-tipped tongs or a flat spatula, remove<br />

the ramekins from the boiling water. Place them on a wire rack to come to room<br />

temperature.<br />

9. Cover each ramekin in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled,<br />

at least 4 hours or overnight (these will keep for a day or so in the fridge).<br />

10. When you are ready to serve, remove the ramekins from the fridge<br />

and, one by one, place each one in a dish of lukewarm water for a minute or so.<br />

11. Run the blade of a small knife around the edge of the custard, place<br />

a small plate on top of each ramekin and, holding tight, flip the plate. The custard should fall<br />

easily onto the plate but if not, you can shake the plate vertically until you hear it drop.

Scrumptious<br />

Chestnut and<br />

Chocolate<br />

Torte<br />

Ingredients<br />

250g of cooked, peeled chestnuts<br />

250g of unsalted butter plus extra for<br />

greasing<br />

250g of 70% coca solids dark chocolate<br />

125ml of double cream<br />

125ml of full fat milk<br />

125g of caster sugar<br />

4 eggs (separate the yolk from the<br />

whites)<br />

This recipe comes from the <strong>No</strong>. 1 Luxury<br />

B&B in France, La Villa de Mazamet in<br />

the south of France near Carcassonne .<br />

Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees<br />

1. Grease a 20 cm spring form cake tin. Place the chestnuts, cream & milk into a<br />

saucepan, heat gently.<br />

2. Place the chocolate (broken into small pieces) and the butter (cubed) into another pan –<br />

heat gently.<br />

3. Place the sugar and egg yolks into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and<br />

thick.<br />

4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peak consistency.<br />

5. Pour the warmed chestnut mixture into a food processor and, using the pulse setting,<br />

blitz for a few seconds. Pour this and the melted chocolate & butter onto the eggs/sugar<br />

mixture and stir thoroughly to combine.<br />

6/ Finally, fold in the egg whites and the pour the mixture into your cake tin and back for<br />

35-40 mins. Remove the oven and allow to cool completely.<br />

Serve with crème fraiche which goes wonderfully with the rich chocolate torte.

My Good Life in France...<br />

It's been more than 14 years since I first set eyes on my run down old farmhouse<br />

in the middle of nowhere, rural Hauts de France. I distinctly remember my sensible<br />

dad saying to me "this house is a money pit" and telling me I shouldn't touch it with<br />

a barge pole. I bought it on the spot, not because I was a rebellious daughter but,<br />

it cost less than some handbags and I knew it had massive potential. If I'd known<br />

that all this time later I'd still be working on fulfilling that potential, I don't think I<br />

would have believed it! Yet here I am, rendering walls, painting shutters and laying<br />

steps and with a fair bit still to do.<br />

I wish I could say it's the final run but of course it isn't. I wish I could say it's been<br />

fun but of course it hasn't always. I'm thinking of the exploding septic tank incident,<br />

breaking my fingers when I dropped a concrete block, having the bejeezus scared<br />

out of me when I disturbed a nest of rats when we opened a boarded up room and<br />

having tiles dropped from the roof onto my head amongst other things.<br />

I would though do it all again if I had to make a choice. The house has changed<br />

from a damp (think water running down the walls), cold (ice forming on the inside<br />

of windows in winter), hardly habitable (dirt floors and corrugated iron farm doors)<br />

barn into a cosy, comfy and charming home.<br />

It's changed me too. I've gone from being a corporate office worker to a builder,<br />

gardener, dog and cat maid and chicken keeper. Though I still can't cook, I know<br />

how my food is grown, I grow a lot of it myself. I'm no longer a city slicker (well not<br />

100% anyway) but a rubber boot wearing country bumpkin and proud of it too!<br />

I would have never thought that I could do half the things I've learned to do - from<br />

standing on the roof to help with the tiling (I have a fear of heights), to plastering<br />

walls. I've fulfilled a dream to write a book based on my new life and made<br />

thousands and thousands of new friends through writing a blog and sharing it on<br />

Facebook.<br />

Sometimes life takes a diversion from the course that you thought you had<br />

planned. There's an old saying "we travel not to escape life but for life not to<br />

escape us", so if you're dreaming of a new life in France and you're not quite sure<br />

or you have any questions about it, feel free to message me, I'm always happy to<br />

give advice where I can. One of the other things I discovered about living in rural<br />

France - sharing makes us happier...<br />

Janine, Editor of The Good Life France


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